- Senate Resumes Debate on Pandemic Relief Package
- AAU, Associations Support $40B for Higher Education Pandemic Relief, Remind Lawmakers More is Needed
- AAU, Organizations Urge USCIS to Implement Provisions of Emergency Stopgap Stabilization Act
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats Unveil CLEAN Future Act
- AAU and C4AD Urge Senate to Advance the Dream Act of 2021
- National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Releases Final Report
- TFAI to Hold Event on the Need for Robust Investments in Scientific Research
SENATE RESUMES DEBATE ON PANDEMIC RELIEF PACKAGE
This morning, after Senate clerks spent nearly 11 hours reading the measure aloud on the floor overnight in response to a demand from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the Senate resumed consideration of its version of H.R. 1319 , the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” While the chamber had 20 hours to debate the measure, it began its “vote-a-rama” on proposed amendments to the $1.87 trillion pandemic aid package earlier this afternoon. During a “vote-a-rama,” senators can offer as many amendments as they want, which has previously led to senators submitting hundreds of amendments. However, CQ News reports that, according to Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), “Once [Republicans] get our top 40 amendments in ... then you'll see diminishing returns set in and probably some movement towards concluding it.”
The package still includes $39.6 billion in additional funding for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The bill also includes a House-passed provision that proposes changes to the 90/10 rule, which would expand the 90 percent cap on revenue for-profit colleges can receive from the government to include all types of federal assistance. Also included in the measure is $100 million for the Institute of Education Sciences for research to address learning loss due to the pandemic and $135 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. A new provision in the bill would ensure that any type of student loan forgiveness passed over the next five years is tax-free.
Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “no matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill—this week.” The Senate is expected to advance the measure along party lines, at which point it would return to the House. There, CQ News reports that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has said it could be considered as early as Monday.
AAU, ASSOCIATIONS SUPPORT $40B FOR HIGHER EDUCATION PANDEMIC RELIEF, REMIND LAWMAKERS MORE IS NEEDED
AAU recently joined ACE and 56 other higher education associations on letters to House and Senate leaders to express their strong support for American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The group notes that while the $40 billion included in the measure for higher education relief falls short of the $97 billion needed to address student and institutional needs, it “represents the largest federal effort so far to address the crippling impact of the pandemic on colleges and universities.” The groups also applaud lawmakers’ efforts to provide dedicated support to address the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving institutions, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
AAU, ORGANIZATIONS URGE USCIS TO IMPLEMENT PROVISIONS OF EMERGENCY STOPGAP STABILIZATION ACT
Yesterday, AAU joined 16 other organizations on a letter to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services urging the agency quickly to implement provisions of the “Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act” included in H.R. 8337, the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act.” The provisions would authorize USCIS to expand the types of forms for which it can offer premium processing. This would generate extra revenue to help the agency reverse its hiring freeze, become more efficient and effective in adjudication of applications and petitions, and promote greater access to the legal immigration system.
HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS UNVEIL CLEAN FUTURE ACT
On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the “Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for Our Nation’s Future Act,” or the CLEAN Future Act. According to a press release, the bill would “[ensure] the United States acts aggressively to tackle the climate crisis this decade and achieve net zero greenhouse gas pollution.” The measure includes provisions to create a clean energy and sustainability accelerator to provide $100 billion in funding for research on, and implementation, of low- and zero-emissions energy technology as well as climate resiliency projects and more. The legislation also would direct all federal agencies to use existing authorities to ensure the country reduces greenhouse gas pollution by 50 percent by 2023.
AAU AND C4AD URGE SENATE TO ADVANCE THE DREAM ACT OF 2021
AAU on Wednesday joined the Coalition for the American Dream, a coalition of more than 100 top businesses and trade associations, on a letter to Senate leaders urging them quickly to advance the bipartisan S. 264 , the “Dream Act of 2021.” The bill includes a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients and undocumented children and would provide them with a pathway to citizenship. The coalition highlights that the contributions of these individuals are vital to our nation, “especially now when tens of thousands of them are currently working as essential front-line personnel fighting COVID-19.”
NATIONAL SECURITY COMMISSION ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RELEASES FINAL REPORT
On Monday, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence released its final report presenting the commission’s “strategy for winning the artificial intelligence era.” Developed over two years, the report outlines how America can prepare to compete on the global stage and defend against artificial intelligence-related threats. One section of the report, “Protecting the U.S. Research Environment,” calls on the federal government to establish and fund an independent entity to assist universities with research security by providing open-source information, risk assessment, and training. It also calls on Congress to pass a modified version of the Academic Research Protection Act .
TFAI TO HOLD EVENT ON THE NEED FOR ROBUST INVESTMENTS IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
The Task Force on American Innovation, of which AAU is a member, will host a briefing for congressional and administration staff about the need for robust investments in scientific research. The event, “Innovation in Crisis: Emerging from a Pandemic to Restore American Competitiveness,” will take place on Friday, March 12, 10:00-11:00 a.m. ET. Please share the registration link with contacts on the Hill and in the administration.
Panelists include AAU President Barbara R. Snyder; American Association for the Advancement of Science CEO Dr. Sudip Parikh; Semiconductor Industry Association President and CEO John Neuffer; IBM Research Senior Vice President and Director Dr. Dario Gil; American Physical Society President Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr.; and American Association for the Advancement of Science Director of R&D Budget and Policy Programs Matt Hourihan.