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CFR Update, November 8, 2017

CONTENTS:

  • Budget and Tax Update
    • Associations Express Concerns with House Tax Reform Bill 
    • Tax Reform Advocacy Materials Available 
  • U.S., Turkey to Resume Granting Visas to One Another 
  • Associations Urge EPA to Reconsider Advisory Panel Directive 
  • House and Senate Agree to $700 Billion Defense Authorization Bill 
  • Senate Panel Advances NASA Administrator Nomination 
  • Reminder: NSF Request for Information - Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure 
  • You're Invited: University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase 
  • AAU Universities Honored at College Inventors Competition 
  • Next CFR Meeting: December 5-6

 
BUDGET AND TAX UPDATE

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to release its tax reform bill this Thursday. It is unclear if the Senate bill will treat higher education provisions differently than the House proposal, but any differences between the two will need to be reconciled for a comprehensive tax reform plan to proceed.

The House bill released last Thursday, would eliminate several student benefits, including the student loan interest deduction and employer-provided educational assistance, and impose a 1.4 percent excise tax on private university endowments valued at $100,000 or more per student. An amendment filed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) would revise the endowment provision to instead tax only those institutions whose endowments are valued at $250,000 or more per student. According to an estimate provided by NAICU, the change would still affect 70 universities.

On Monday, AAU and several other higher education associations wrote to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) to express serious concerns with the House bill. The letter notes the legislation would greatly discourage participation in postsecondary education, make college more expensive, and weaken the financial stability of colleges and universities.

As members of the CFR continue to engage their congressional delegations, the following tax issue briefs are available on the AAU website for reference:

As additional briefs are developed, AAU will continue to post these documents to the Taxation and Finance webpage.

U.S., TURKEY RESUME GRANTING VISAS TO ONE ANOTHER

The U.S. embassy in Ankara announced it would resume "limited visa service" to non-immigrant Turkish nationals after receiving assurances from the Turkish government that no American employees were under pending investigation in the country. In response, the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., said it would also resume processing visa applications for U.S. nationals "on a limited basis." In October, both countries stopped issuing nonimmigrant visas to each other's citizens.

Al Jazeera has more.

ASSOCIATIONS URGE EPA TO RECONSIDER ADVISORY PANEL DIRECTIVE

AAU on Monday joined four other higher education associations in a letter urging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reconsider a recent directive that bars scientists receiving EPA grants from advisory roles, due to a perceived conflict of interest and lack of objectivity. The letter argues that researchers deemed worthy of receiving taxpayer funds for research are the very experts that the EPA should turn to for advice. This, combined with ethical standards and conflict of interest rules, allows for the selection of the most qualified researchers to conduct EPA research and it is only logical to allow these researchers to serve in scientific advisory roles.

HOUSE AND SENATE AGREE TO $700 BILLION DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL 

House and Senate negotiators today agreed to a $700 billion defense authorization plan for FY18 (H.R. 2810), setting authorizing levels at roughly $85 billion above Budget Control Act (BCA) caps. The plan, which sets aside about $626 billion for base defense funding and $66 billion for overseas contingency operations, still needs final approval in both chambers in the coming weeks, and lawmakers will need to reconcile the bill's cost with existing BCA caps. A summary of the conference report is available here.

Defense News has more.

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES NASA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINATION

Today, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the nomination of Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as NASA Administrator by a party-line vote of 14-13. His nomination now moves to the full Senate for final consideration.

REMINDER: NSF REQUEST FOR INFORMATION - MID-SCALE RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE

As relayed in a prior communication, the National Science Foundation issued an October 6 Request for Information (RFI) on mid-scale research infrastructure in response to requirements of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). To develop a strategy in accordance to the AICA, the NSF seeks information on existing and future needs for mid-scale research infrastructure projects from the U.S.-based NSF scientific and engineering community. Comments are due Friday, December 8 and may be submitted here.

YOU'RE INVITED: UNIVERSITY INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP SHOWCASE

CFR members are invited to attend the inaugural "University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase," hosted by AAU and APLU, which will feature startups from across the country that grew out of federally funded university research. The public exhibition and reception will take place Tuesday, November 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building Foyer. A list of featured startups and RSVP information are included in the linked invitation.

AAU UNIVERSITIES HONORED AT COLLEGE INVENTORS COMPETITION

Both Johns Hopkins University and Boston University students placed in the 2017 U.S. Patent and Trade Office College Inventors Competition. A team of undergraduates at Johns Hopkins developed AssistENT, a flexible device worn within the nose to aid breathing safely and discreetly, offering an alternative to invasive surgery or external adhesive strips. Boston University graduate student Ning Mao developed Engineered Probiotics, a synthetic probiotic that provides early detection of cholera, contains disease spread, and may be adapted to fight other bacterial infections.

NEXT CFR MEETING: DECEMBER 5-6

The CFR will next convene in-person December 5-6. A draft agenda will be sent one week in advance.

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

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