- Budget and Appropriations Update
- House to Vote on Five-Bill, $1T “Minibus”
- House Appropriations This Week
- President Signs Disaster Relief Aid Legislation
- HHS Sharply Limits Fetal Tissue Research Funding
- Wyden Introduces Bill to End Tax Break for Certain College Donations
- House Advancing FY20 Defense Authorization
- House Passes American Dream and Promise Act
- Senate Committee Holds “Foreign Threats to Taxpayer-Funded Research” Hearing
- House to Hold Hearing on “Combating Sexual Harassment in Science”
- Senate Committee Holds First “State of Patent Eligibility” Hearing
- Ed Dept Releases Borrower Defense to Repayment Q&A Document
- Upcoming Events
BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
As early as next week, the House will begin to consider a nearly $1 trillion “minibus” package which would include Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, State and Foreign Operations, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch spending bills.
The House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee Monday advanced its FY20 Financial Services & General Government spending measure, which includes $24.55 billion in discretionary funding.
The full Appropriations Committee Tuesday approved the $137.1 billion FY20 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development and $24.31 billion FY20 Agriculture-Rural Development-Food and Drug Administration spending bills. The FY20 Agriculture spending measure includes $445 million for AFRI, a 7.2 percent increase over FY19 levels. This matches AAU’s funding recommendation.
The Subcommittee on Homeland Security Wednesday passed its $63.6 billion FY20 spending bill. Details about the bill have not yet been released.
The president yesterday signed into law H.R. 2157 , the “Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019,” a $19.1 billion package of disaster-relief aid. The measure includes $165 million in Education Department funding to support colleges and universities and K-12 schools affected by natural disasters.
HOUSE ADVANCING FY20 DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION
The House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittees are this week considering FY20 defense authorization. The subcommittees on Tactical Air and Land Forces , Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities , Strategic Forces, Seapower and Projection Forces, Military Personnel, and Readiness have all advanced their spending measures to the full committee. Authorization levels for defense research spending are not yet available.
HHS SHARPLY LIMITS FETAL TISSUE RESEARCH FUNDING
The Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday announced it would no longer fund NIH intramural research that involves the use of fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions. The department said that it will not renew a $2 million contact with University of California, San Francisco. Currently funded extramural research using fetal tissue will continue through the conclusion or renewal cycle of each grant. Any new NIH grant applications proposing to use fetal tissue would have to be reviewed by a special ethics panel constituted and convened by HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
AAU, together with AAMC and APLU, released a statement highlighting the importance of fetal tissue research and called on HHS to “ensure researchers are able to explore all avenues of discovery.”
WYDEN INTRODUCES BILL TO END TAX BREAK FOR CERTAIN COLLEGE DONATIONS
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) Wednesday introduced legislation to end the tax breaks for donations made to colleges and universities before or during a related student’s enrollment. The Senator said this move would help prevent future college admissions schemes as seen in “Operation Varsity Blues.” In a tweet, Wyden stated, “While middle-class families are pinching pennies to pay tuition and graduates are buried under tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, wealthy families are greasing the skids to put their children ahead of everyone else.”
RESOURCE AVAILABLE: AAU President Comments on Admissions Fraud Allegations
HOUSE PASSES AMERICAN DREAM AND PROMISE ACT
The House Tuesday passed H.R. 6, “the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019,” by a nearly party-line vote of 237 to 187. The legislation would allow some undocumented young people to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and extends Temporary Protected Status. Many students at AAU universities – or their families – hold TPS status and are under threat of deportation if the program is not extended. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the Senate is unlikely to vote on the legislation.
SENATE COMMITTEE HOLDS “FOREIGN THREATS TO TAXPAYER-FUNDED RESEARCH” HEARING
The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday held a closed hearing titled “Foreign Threats to Taxpayer-Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions.” Witnesses included HHS Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security Capt. Michael Schmoyer; NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak; HHS OIG Office of Investigations Chief of Investigative Operations Les Hollie; DHS Homeland Security Investigations Deputy Assistant Director Louis Rodi; and Oregon Health and Science University Department of Biomedical Engineering Chair Joe W. Gray.
AAU Tuesday submitted a statement for the record to the committee to highlight the important work our universities do to protect scientific research efforts on their campuses. The statement says, “Striking the right balance between controlling sensitive technological information and maintaining the free flow of fundamental scientific knowledge and international talent is vital to protecting America’s national security, maintaining the nation’s role as the world’s leader in science and innovation, and continuing the economic growth enabled by scientific and technological advances.”
HOUSE COMMITTEE TO HOLD HEARING ON “COMBATING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN SCIENCE”
The House will on June 12 hold a hearing titled “Combating Sexual Harassment in Science.” The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building. Witnesses include GAO Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics Managing Director John Neumann; Wellesley College President Paula Johnson; Boston University Provost and CAO Jean Morrison; and University of California, Davis Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of Analytic Epidemiology Phillip Kass.
SENATE COMMITTEE HOLDS FIRST “STATE OF PATENT ELIGIBILITY” HEARING
The Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Wednesday held a hearing titled, “The State of Patent Eligibility in America: Part II,” which focused on Section 101 of the Patent Act and the challenges that judicially created exceptions to Section 101 have created for U.S. innovators. University of Michigan Associate General Counsel Rick Brandon represented AAU. In his testimony , Brandon said, “patents are the lifeblood for many of our scientific discoveries, and the key to moving those discoveries from the lab to the marketplace.” Brandon also offered recommendations for improving the forthcoming legislation on patent eligibility.
ED DEPT RELEASES BORROWER DEFENSE TO REPAYMENT Q&A DOCUMENT
The Education Department Tuesday released a “Questions and Answers” document to clarify compliance guidelines for reporting the 2016 Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule which took effect May 14. The Q&A document clarifies reporting requirements for public institutions, debts and liabilities, and litigation. The department reportedly plans to update the Q&A “on an ongoing basis.”