DC Digest – July 16, 2014

In Today’s Issue:

  • University sexual assault study released by Senator Claire McCaskill
  • House committee approves higher ed bills
  • House appropriations subcommittee cuts funding to NEH, full committee rescinds cuts
  • House approves four science committee bills
  • ACE-led letter calls for permanent extension of IRA charitable rollover
  • House bill targets college athletics financial reporting
  • Student aid funding stalled in Congress
  • New NEH chairman confirmed
  • ED urges universities to comply with Clery Act changes
  • AAAS solicits nominations for early career awards for public engagement in science

 

SENATOR MCCASKILL RELEASES FINDINGS OF CAMPUS SEXUAL VIOLENCE SURVEY
The findings of the campus sexual violence survey, released by Senator Claire McCaskill on July 9, assess how institutions report, investigate, and adjudicate sexual violence. Overall, the findings are critical of every aspect of how campuses are handling sexual assaults on campus.The report, “Sexual Violence on Campus: How too many institutions of higher education are failing to protect students,” highlights issues ranging from low levels of awareness of the problem, to a lack of support for survivors, to failures in sexual assault training, reporting, investigation, and adjudication.

She indicated that she is continuing to work with a bipartisan group of Senators to develop legislation addressing the issues raised in the report.

Read More:
McCaskill Report (pdf)
Colleges ignoring sexual assault, senator charges (USA Today)

 

HOUSE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES 3 HIGHER ED BILLS
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved three bills last week intended to serve as building blocks towards the comprehensive re-authorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). These bills establish a demonstration program for competency-based education, require annual student loan and Pell Grant counseling, and simplify consumer information for students and families.

Some Democrats on the committee, however,  said they were concerned the bills did not go far enough in directly addressing the rising price of college and providing student loan borrowers with needed consumer protections.

The full House is expected to consider these and other narrowly-focused HEA measures throughout the remainder of the 113th Congress. If a full HEA reauthorization bill is not passed by the end of September, Congress is likely to pass an extension to ensure federal financial aid programs and other provisions of the current bill remain in effect in fiscal year 2015.

Read more:
House Starts in on HEA (Inside Higher Ed)
House Committee Unanimously Approves Three Higher Education Bills (NAICU)

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE CUTS FUNDING TO NEH, FULL COMMITTEE RESCINDS CUTS
The House Interior-Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee last week approved its FY 2015 funding bill with an $8 million cut in funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The measure would have cut NEH funding from $146 million to just $138 million, the lowest level since 1972.

Fortunately, the House Appropriations Committee yesterday passed an amendment that rescinds the proposed $8 million cut. The FY15 funding level for NEH in the bill—and for its companion agency, the National Endowment of the Arts—is now set at its current FY14 funding level of $146 million.

The welcome amendment passed with substantial bipartisan support.

Read More:
AAU statement opposing cuts (aau.edu)

HOUSE APPROVES FOUR SCIENCE COMMITTEE BILLS
The House on Monday approved four science-related authorization bills with bipartisan support. Two of the measures are noncontroversial portions of Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s (R-TX) larger bill, the FIRST Act (H.R. 4186), which the panel approved on May 28 on a party-line vote over the strong objections of many in the university research community.

The two bills from the FIRST Act support international science and technology collaboration (H.R. 5029), and add computer science to the federal definition of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education (H.R. 5031). The third bill, the Research and Development Efficiency Act (H.R. 5056), calls for the National Science and Technology Council to conduct a comprehensive review of the regulatory burden of federally sponsored research. A fourth Committee bill (H.R. 1786) approved by the House reauthorizes research on storm damage mitigation.

Another bill representing a third piece of the FIRST Act, to reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology (H.R. 5035), was delayed and may be considered next week.

AAU remains opposed to the broader FIRST Act because it lacks a vision for enhancing U.S. competitiveness through science and innovation; would significantly cut authorized funding for the social, behavioral, and economic sciences at NSF; and would add unnecessary new grant conditions that would circumvent peer review.

Read More:
House Approves Four Science Committee Bills (Science.house.gov)
AAU Statement in Support of Research and Development Efficiency Act (aau.edu)
AAU Opposition Statement to Broader FIRST Act (pdf)

ACE-LED LETTER CALLS FOR PERMANENTLY EXTENDING IRA CHARITABLE ROLLOVER
Led by the American Council on Education (ACE), a group of higher education associations this morning sent a letter to all Members of the House urging them to support legislation to extend permanently the IRA Charitable Rollover tax provision.

The House Rules Committee added the bill (H.R. 4619) to the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2014 (H.R. 4719), a package of five tax bills that is scheduled for the House floor tomorrow.

Read More:
Permanent Extension of IRA Charitable Rollover

HOUSE BILL TARGETS COLLEGE SPORTS FINANCIAL REPORTING
Congressional interest in college sports continued growing Monday evening, when two members of the House (including Rep. David Price) introduced a bill that would require wide-ranging, easily accessible financial reporting not only by schools, but also by the NCAA, conferences, bowl games and the new College Football Playoff. The new bill essentially would result in the U.S. Department of Education making available for all schools — including private schools — the detailed, sport-by-sport revenue and expense data they report to the NCAA every year.

Read more:
House bill on financial reporting targets college sports (USA Today)


STUDENT AID FUNDING STALLED IN CONGRESS
Bipartisan congressional appropriators’ attempts at regular order for passing the FY 2015 spending bills have stalled. Completion of the spending bills, including student aid funding, will most likely be delayed until a post-election lame duck session. The Senate Committee on Appropriations has written 7 of the 12 annual spending bills, but has been unsuccessful at gaining passage on the floor. It has not acted on spending bills for Labor-HHS-Education, which funds student aid, Interior, Defense, Energy or Financial Services. The House Committee on Appropriations has written 10 of the 12 annual spending bills, but passed only five on the floor. It also has not passed a Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill. No appropriations bills have been sent to the president for signature.

Read more:
FY 2015 Student Aid Funding Stalled (NAICU)

 

WILLIAM “BRO” ADAMS CONFIRMED AS CHAIRMAN OF NEH
Former Colby College President William D. “Bro” Adams was confirmed Wednesday by the United States Senate as the 10th chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Adams is expected to begin as chairman in the coming days.

Read more:
William “Bro” Adams Confirmed as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

COLLEGES MUST MAKE “GOOD-FAITH EFFORT” ON CLERY ACT COMPLIANCE, U.S. SAYS
The U.S. Department of Education said on Monday that colleges must make a “good-faith effort” to comply with changes in the campus-crime reporting law known as the Clery Act before the department issues final rules outlining how colleges should work to prevent crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence.

Read more:
Colleges must make “good-faith effort” on Clery Act compliance, U.S. says (Chronicle of Higher Education)


NEW STUDENT LOAN BILL HITS THE HILL
Sens. Marco Rubio and Mark Warner introduced the Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act today, which would consolidate three federal loan options – Grad PLUS, subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans – into one. The new loan would be repaid through a simplified and improved income-based system that would limit payments to 10 percent of borrower paychecks and tier loan forgiveness by debt load. Older borrowers would also be able to consolidate into the new loans.

Read More:
Rubio, Warner Introduce Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act (Rubio.senate.gov)
Rubio Set to Push Major Student Loan Bill While Eyeing 2016 (newsmax)

AAAS SOLICITS NOMINATIONS FOR EARLY CAREER AWARDS FOR PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT WITH SCIENCE
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has issued a call for nominations for its AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science. Members of the CFR may wish to forward the announcement to the deans of their graduate schools and other senior administrators on campus.

 The recipient of the award will win a prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and complimentary registration and travel to the AAAS annual meeting in San Jose, California.

Nominations are due October 15. Information about the award, including eligibility and nomination requirements, is available here.