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CFR Update, December 20, 2017

CONTENTS: 

  • Congress Approves Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 
  • Budget and Appropriations Update 
  • AAU President Thanks Senators for Introducing Foreign Languages Bill 
  • NIH Ends 3-Year Funding Ban on Risky Virus Studies 
  • Science Groups Express Concern Over Reported Word Ban at the CDC 
  • FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Rules 
  • Updated Tech Transfer One-Pager Available 
  • FINAL REMINDER: CFR Conference Registration Closing

CONGRESS APPROVES TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT

Today, Congress officially approved the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), a sweeping tax code overhaul that will impose a new 1.4 percent excise tax on certain private university endowments, affecting an estimated 32 institutions. The final plan retains the tax-exempt status of graduate student tuition waivers, employer-provided educational assistance, and maintains the student loan interest deduction.

The House first passed the bill by a vote of 227-203 yesterday but was then forced to vote a second time today after several provisions violated procedural Senate rules. The Senate voted late last night 51-48 to advance the bill. AAU President Mary Sue Coleman issued a statement in response. President Trump earlier today congratulated House and Senate leadership and could sign the bill as early as tomorrow.

BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE

The House will tomorrow vote on a short-term funding bill to avoid a December 22 government shutdown. The House bill would simply extend government funding at FY17 levels through January 19, 2018. House leaders previously planned to combine the continuing resolution (CR) with defense spending and a disaster aid package but may pivot to passing a clean CR after some members have expressed concerns with the cost of the aid bill. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy today told reporters the House will pass a spending bill the Senate can accept, and leave for the holidays.

The Washington Post and Politico have more.

AAU PRESIDENT THANKS SENATORS FOR INTRODUCING FOREIGN LANGUAGES BILL

Today, Senators Todd Young and Tammy Baldwin introduced the Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act, which would reauthorize the Education Department's Title VI programs. AAU President Mary Sue Coleman wrote to thank both Senators, noting that their bill would ensure continued support for developing a national capacity in international and foreign language education.

NIH ENDS 3-YEAR FUNDING BAN ON RISKY VIRUS STUDIES

The NIH yesterday lifted a three-year moratorium on federal funding for certain studies with dangerous viruses and announced a new plan for reviewing such research. The now-lifted ban stemmed from concerns over "gain of function" studies that make pathogens more potent or likely to spread in people, which peaked in 2011 after researchers announced they had modified the H5N1 bird flu virus to enable spread between ferrets.

Science has more.

SCIENCE GROUPS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER REPORTED WORD BAN AT THE CDC

AAU joined over 40 other scientific organizations in a letter yesterday to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to stress the importance of maintaining scientific integrity in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research.The letter was sent in response to a December 15 report by The Washington Post suggesting the administration provided CDC staff with a list of banned words, including "evidence-based" and "science-based." Since the December 15 report, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald has tweeted assurances that no such ban exists.


FCC REPEALS NET NEUTRALITY RULES

Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to pass its "Restoring Internet Freedom" order, eliminating provisions for network neutrality and reversing the FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order. The new order will go into effect early 2018. 

AAU President Mary Sue Coleman on Friday issued a statement to express serious concerns over the negative consequences of rolling back net neutrality for universities and other nonprofit organizations that rely on high-capacity broadband to serve the American public.


Led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, at least 19 states have announced plans to file suit against the commission since Thursday's vote. Congressional action is also likely. AAU will continue to monitor developments, work with our members, and fellow associations to develop next steps for the higher education community.


UPDATED TECH TRANSFER ONE-PAGER AVAILABLE

A second iteration of the AAU-APLU technology transfer one-pager, updated with numbers from the most recent Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) survey, is now available. Additional technology transfer resource materials are available on the AAU Technology Transfer webpage.

FINAL REMINDER: CFR CONFERENCE REGISTRATION CLOSING

Online registration for the 2018 CFR Annual Strategic Planning Conference at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona, will close this Friday, December 22, at 5:00 p.m. EST. If you have not already registered to attend, please do so now. An updated draft agenda, registration information, and additional conference information is available here on the AAU website (MyAAU login required).

Please visit us at www.aau.edu and follow AAU on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.