DC Digest – January 26, 2015

In Today’s Issue:

  • Higher Ed Associations Endorse Immigration Innovation Act
  • Dukies on the Move
  • SOTU Includes Higher Education, Research
  • House and Senate Subcommittee Assignment Announcements
  • Patent Coalition Expresses Concerns About Potential Patent Litigation Legislation
  • National Academies Launches Panel to Review Research Regulations
  • NRC Creates Forum to Improve Public Understanding of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • National Academies Publishes Guide to Evidence-Based Undergraduate STEM Teaching
  • What Will Congress Get Done?

 

HIGHER EDUCATION ASSOCIATIONS ENDORSE IMMIGRATION INNOVATION ACT
A group of 13 higher education associations wrote to a bipartisan group of Senators on January 22 expressing strong support for the legislation they have introduced to expand the ability of high-skilled workers to live and work in the United States.

The Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015 (S. 153 ) would increase the number of employment-based nonimmigrant (H-1B) visas and broaden access to green cards for high-skilled workers by expanding exemptions and eliminating the annual per-country limits. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the measure.

Among other provisions, the I-Squared Act would:

  • Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption for H-1B visas (currently limited to 20,000 per year);
  • Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities (which would allow students to come to the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa and then be able to seek permanent resident status);
  • Exempt U.S. STEM advanced degree holders and outstanding professors and researchers from the employment-based green card cap (note: I-Squared uses the broad Department of Homeland Security definition of qualified STEM fields); and
  • Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards and direct the revenue to fund a state-administered grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining.

Read More:
Higher Ed Letter Endorsing I-Squared Act (pdf)
Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio, Coons, Flake, Blumenthal Introduce High-Skilled Immigration Bill (Hatch.senate.gov)

 

DUKIES ON THE MOVE
Michael Calvo (T ’02)
is now legislative director for freshman Representative Jody Hice (R-GA).

Mike Howell (T ’10) began working as counsel for Chairman Chaffetz (R-UT) on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on January 5.  Howell previously served on the HSGAC Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight.

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

 

STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS INCLUDES HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH
Higher education played a prominent role in President Obama’s State of the Union address last week. The President proposes to raise taxes on wealthy taxpayers and financial institutions and use the revenues for a number of purposes, including his already-announced proposal to make two years of community college education free, consolidating higher education tax breaks, and expanding eligibility for Pell Grants. He couched these plans as part of his larger domestic theme of ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness and promoting greater economic equality. It is unclear whether any pieces of these proposals will be embraced by the Republican-led Congress.

The President also mentioned the importance of scientific discovery and basic research in his speech, stating, “…when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments…”

Read More:
Obama’s Final 2 Years: Guide to Higher Ed Priorities and Proposals (InsideHigherEd)
White House Fact Sheet on Proposals – scroll down to “Preparing Hardworking Americans to Earn Higher Wages” (whitehouse.gov)

 

HOUSE AND SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS
The House Education and the Workforce Committee will keep its line-up of Republican subcommittee chairs from last year in the 114th Congress.  Of note: North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx will remain chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) will be chairman of the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations subcommittee, his office announced last week. He said his priorities would include NIH, mental health, higher education, and workforce issues.

Read More:
Senator Blunt to Serve as Chairman of Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcomittee (blunt.senate.gov)

 

PATENT COALITION EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL PATENT LITIGATION LEGISLATION
A group of more than two hundred organizations joined in a letter sent to House and Senate judiciary committee leaders on January 21 that expresses concerns about potential patent litigation legislation that might emerge in the 114th Congress.

The letter acknowledges that the behavior of so-called patent trolls is a problem, but urges that any legislation intended to address abusive litigation behavior should not overreach in a way that weakens the overall patent system. The letter also describes several major judicial and administrative developments that have positively reshaped the patent landscape since Congress last considered the issue. It asks the committee leaders to take these changes into account when drafting any legislation.

Read More:
Patent Coalition Letter (pdf)

NATIONAL ACADEMIES LAUNCHES PANEL TO REVIEW RESEARCH REGULATIONS
The National Academies’ Committee on Science, Technology, and Law on January 20 announced the launch of its panel to review federal research regulations and reporting requirements that affect universities. The committee , which will hold its first meeting on February 12-13, 2015 in Washington, D.C., will be chaired by Larry Faulkner, president emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin.

Read More:
Committee on Federal Research Regulations and Reporting Requirements: A New Framework for Research Universities in the 21st Century (nationalacademies.org)

NRC CREATES FORUM TO IMPROVE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
The National Research Council has created a new forum whose purpose is to improve public understanding of the value and importance of the social and behavioral sciences (SBS). The Roundtable on the Application of Social and Behavioral Science Research will develop ways to communicate how SBS research is being used by industry, education, the military, public health and other user communities.

Read More:
Roundtable on the Application of Social and Behavioral Science Research (nationalacademies.org)


NATIONAL ACADEMIES PUBLISHES GUIDE TO EVIDENCE-BASED UNDERGRADUATE STEM TEACHING

The National Academies on January 15 published a guide for college-level faculty on how to implement teaching strategies in undergraduate STEM education that research has shown to be most effective in promoting student learning.

The report, Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, follows up on a 2012 report that synthesized literature from several research fields on how students learn, particularly in scientific disciplines, and ways to improve instruction.

Read More:
National Academies Report on STEM Teaching (nap.edu)

WHAT WILL CONGRESS GET DONE?
With the State of the Union in the rearview mirror, and Republicans settling into power in the House and Senate, the pomp and circumstance of a new congressional session is rapidly giving way to the grind of legislating.  According to The Hill, here are the major legislative areas where an Obama signature is most likely, ranked from most likely to least: Cybersecurity, trade, ISIS war authorization, infrastructure spending, Patriot Act changes, medical device tax, tax reform, and Keystone XL pipeline.

Read More:
What Will Congress Get Done (The Hill)