topSkip to main content

Menu, Secondary

Menu Trigger


AAU Weekly Wrap-up, September 17, 2021

Leading Research Universities Report to Replace AAU Weekly Wrap-up

AAU is pleased to announce the launch of Leading Research Universities Report, a new public weekly newsletter that will replace the AAU Weekly Wrap-up. Geared toward a public audience, Leading Research Universities Report will continue to bring to you all the relevant news and information in the world of higher education that you already receive, but in an updated format and with a greater focus on how America’s leading research universities are transforming lives through education, research, and innovation. Starting next Friday, Leading Research Universities Report will be automatically delivered each week to current subscribers of the AAU Weekly Wrap-up; members of the public will be able to subscribe to the newsletter at a later date. Thank you for reading the AAU Weekly Wrap-up; we hope you will enjoy AAU’s new offering.

House to Consider Continuing Resolution and Debt Ceiling Next Week

Today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told colleagues in a letter that “during the week of September 20, the House will take up a continuing resolution to ensure that our government can keep serving the American people without interruption.” The letter states that “the House will also take action to suspend the debt limit to ensure that America pays its bills on time.” The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday to consider a continuing resolution that, Bloomberg Government reports, is likely to run through December 3. Republicans have stated that they will not support any measure to increase or suspend the debt ceiling; inclusion of a debt ceiling provision with the continuing resolution may result in a political standoff that could lead to a government shutdown.

Meanwhile, all House committees met the September 15 deadline for approving their portions of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. In a 24-19 vote, the House Ways and Means Committee approved about $2.2 trillion in tax increases on Wednesday; the Energy and Commerce Committee also completed its markup the same day. For a complete breakdown of budget reconciliation provisions affecting research and higher education, please see AAU’s analysis.

House Likely to Vote on NDAA Next Week

The House Rules Committee is meeting on Monday to review more than 700 amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, setting the bill up for a House vote next week. The current version of the bill authorizes the Pentagon to spend $24 billion more than envisioned in President Biden’s budget request. AAU staff is monitoring research security-related amendments of concern.

Resource Available: University and Federal Actions Taken to Address Research Security Issues

State Department Waives Visa Interview Requirements for Certain Students and Scholars

Earlier this week, the State Department announced that consular officers have been authorized to expand the categories of F, M, and “academic J visa applicants” (students, professors, research scholars, short-term scholars, or specialists) whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview, with certain exceptions. Through the end of the year, consular officers may waive the visa interview requirement for eligible F, M, and academic J visa applicants who were previously issued any type of visa and who have never been refused a visa unless such refusal was overcome or waived. The waiver is also available to eligible first-time F, M, and academic J visa applicants who are citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program. Applicants should check the relevant consulate or embassy website for information about country eligibility and procedures.

James Kvaal Confirmed as Under Secretary of Education

Yesterday, the Senate voted 58-37 to confirm James Kvaal as the under secretary of education. As under secretary, Kvaal will oversee postsecondary education policy and manage issues such as student loan repayment and the administration of emergency relief programs. He previously served as the president of the Institute for College Access and Success. He also served as the deputy domestic policy adviser at the White House and deputy under secretary of education during the Obama administration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and a JD from Harvard Law School.

AAU, ACE, and 17 other higher education organizations sent a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) urging the Senate to vote in favor of Kvaal’s nomination. The letter stated: “Over the course of his career, we have come to know Mr. Kvaal as an effective, thoughtful, and objective expert in higher education policy. These traits will serve him, and our nation’s students and educators, well in the role of Under Secretary.”

President Biden Announces COVID-19 Action Plan to Reduce Number of Unvaccinated Americans

Last week, President Biden announced a COVID-19 action plan to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans. Per the plan, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will develop a rule that will require all employers with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. OSHA is also developing a rule that will require employers to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated. OSHA plans to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to implement these requirements. President Biden also issued two executive orders requiring all federal employees and contractors that do business with the federal government to get vaccinated. The latter executive order does not apply to federal grantees but may have implications for universities with certain federal contracts. The administration is expected to release guidance later this month.

Upcoming Events

SEPTEMBER 22 GOLDEN GOOSE AWARD ONLINE CEREMONY; 4:00 p.m. ET. More information available here.

SEPTEMBER 23 VIRTUAL “RALLY FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH;” 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET. More information available here.