DC Digest – February 9, 2015

In Today’s Issue:

  • This Week in Washington
  • Higher Ed Associations Detail Concerns About House Patent Reform Bill
  • Dukies on the Move
  • Secretary of Labor to Visit Campus on Feb 11
  • Senator Graham to Deliver Duke Law Conference Keynote Feb 27
  • DukeDC Public Policy Alumni Group to Feature Fritz Mayer on Feb 11
  • AAU Comments on Department of Education’s Proposed College Rating System

 

THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Foreign Conflicts
: President Obama welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House today. During the visit, Merkel briefed the President on a German and France-led peace plan to stop fighting in eastern Ukraine, but the President is facing increased calls to supply Ukraine with lethal aid in the ongoing conflict. Meanwhile, Congress is expecting to receive a draft Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State terror group by the middle of the week.

Keystone XL: On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Senate-passed legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline. The House passed a version of this legislation in January, but the Senate added a number of amendments, including one proclaiming  “climate change is real and not a hoax.” President Obama has issued a veto threat for the legislation — if he does veto the legislation, it would be his first veto of the 114th Congress.

Immigration Complicates Homeland Security Funding: Funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expire in just a few weeks on Feb. 27, but Republicans are still flummoxed over how to pass legislation providing funding beyond that date. The Senate failed to advance a proposed measure not just once, or twice, but three times last week due to united Democratic opposition to language that defunds President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Conservatives, meanwhile, want to aggressively challenge the president against what they believe was an unconstitutional move. With neither the House nor Senate holding votes next week, there is limited time to reach a deal.

Tax Extenders: The House of Representatives plans to vote on two pieces of legislation this week that would permanently extend tax credits for charitable giving and small businesses. The tax credits include food inventory, tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans, and one from Section 179 giving small businesses the ability to write off certain expenses.

Read More:
Ukraine Conflict: Merkel takes peace plan to Obama (BBC)
This week: Immigration, Keystone top agenda (The Hill)

HIGHER ED ASSOCIATIONS DETAIL CONCERNS ABOUT HOUSE PATENT REFORM BILL
The group of six higher education associations that have been working together on patent reform issued a statement on February 5 expressing serious concerns about the Innovation Act (H.R. 9), legislation introduced in the House. The bill is intended to address the abusive litigation practices of “patent trolls,” a goal shared by the associations, but they asserted that the legislation would go too far and cause damage to the U.S. patent system.

H.R. 9, which the sponsors say is identical to the measure (H.R. 3309) approved by the House in 2013, was introduced by a bipartisan group of House Members, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

The associations said they support legislation to target those who abuse the patent system, but they could not support the Innovation Act, as drafted. The measure is so broad, they said, that it would substantially raise the costs and risks associated with patenting, thus discouraging technology transfer of university research to the private sector.

Read More:
Higher Ed Association Statement on Innovation Act (aau.edu)

DUKIES ON THE MOVE
Eric Lindsey (T ’09) has joined the office of Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.) as his Defense Policy Advisor. Representative Forbes serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces of the House Armed Services Committee.

Reggie Love (T ’05) will join the re-election campaign of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Are you or other Dukies you know making a move in DC?  Please send tips to Landy Elliott –landy.elliott@duke.edu.

SECRETARY OF LABOR PEREZ TO VISIT CAMPUS FEB 11
Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez will deliver the keynote address Wednesday, February 11, at the 10th Annual Duke University Sustainable Business & Social Impact (SBSI) conference. The conference, which is aimed at educating students and Triangle-area professionals on rapidly evolving opportunities to bring about positive and sustainable change through business, is the largest event of its kind in the Southeast and the largest student-led conference at The Fuqua School of Business.

Read More:
Duke Sustainable Business and Social Impact Conference (conference website)

DUKEDC PUBLIC POLICY ALUMNI GROUP TO FEATURE FRITZ MAYER ON FEB 11
The DukeDC Public Policy Alumni Group, an affinity group of Sanford grads co-chaired by Amy Hepburn (T ’97, MPP ’01) and Kyle White (T ’07), will host Sanford School of Public Policy Professor and Associate Dean Frederick “FritzMayer for a conversation about the ways in which narrative motivates collective action, based on his new book, Narrative Politics. The event will take place Wednesday, February 11 from 6:00-7:30pm at the Duke in Washington office.

SENATOR GRAHAM TO DELIVER DUKE LAW CONFERENCE KEYNOTE FEB. 27
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- SC) will deliver on February 27 the keynote address for a conference hosted by Duke Law School’s Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security (LENS). The 2015 LENS conference, Law in the Age of ‘Forever War’, will focus on the legal issues that accompany warfare in a time when technology, relationships between nations, and the abilities of non-state actors to affect the international stage, are all changing rapidly. Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, will deliver the Saturday keystone speech, “NSA and the Future of Surveillance in the Age of Forever War.”

Read More:
Conference schedule and registration (Conference website)

AAU COMMENTS ON DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’S PROPOSED COLLEGE RATING SYSTEM
AAU on February 3 submitted detailed comments to the Department of Education on the agency’s proposed college rating system. The comment letter states that AAU believes that providing students and families with clear, accurate, and useful information about higher education institutions is an appropriate federal role but that it is inappropriate for the federal government to rate institutions. The letter states:

“…We do not endorse a new rating system, and we are concerned that a rating system does not reflect the diversity of higher education institutions and their missions, and may confuse and mislead prospective students.”

Read More:
AAU Comments on College Rating System (pdf)