DC Digest – June 24, 2014
In Today’s Issue:
- This Week in Washington
- Chris Simmons: A Big Idea – the GI Bill – Turns 70
- Op-Ed: An Unemotional Argument for Federal Investments in Science
- AAA&S Releases Humanities Indicators
- House Finishes Work on FY15 Defense Appropriations Bill
- House Approves FY15 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
- In Appropriations Bills, Fulbright Program Spared
- FY15 Appropriations Process Stalls in Senate
- Progress on Higher Education Act Reauthorization
- Dept of Ed Releases Proposed Rules on Campus Crime Disclosure
- NSF Toolkit Highlights Impact of NSF-Funded Research
- Duke Student-Led Time Capsule to Mars Hosts Press Event in DC
THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Capitol Hill, Veterans Affairs: Members of the House and Senate will begin negotiations on veterans health care legislation at a public meeting Tuesday afternoon. The negotiators will be seeking to pay for the measure’s $35 billion price tag. The legislation seeks to reduce veterans wait times for health care.
Capitol Hill, On the Floor: House members will be voting on energy-related proposals, including one measure to expand offshore drilling and another to speed up development of drilling in Alaska. Meanwhile, the Senate — who last week failed to reach an agreement on how to consider three appropriations bills — will be voting to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which expired in 2003.
Foreign Affairs: Lawmakers also are continuing to monitor and debate how President Obama should handle the situation in Iraq. And U.S. policy on Iraq could come up Wednesday, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee delves into the Afghanistan transition, which no policymaker wants to see become another Iraq. The same day, President Obama will be having lunch with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the White House.
Economic Report: On Wednesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release the final GDP figures for the first quarter of 2014. The initial estimates, released at the end of May, showed the economy contracting for the first time since the first quarter of 2011.
Senate passes VA health care bill but now must figure how to ‘offset’ $35 billion cost (Times Picayune)
Congress Enters Fourth of July Homestretch (National Journal)
U.S. GDP Dropped 1% In the First Quarter 2014, Down from First Estimate (Forbes)
CHRIS SIMMONS: A BIG IDEA – THE GI BILL – TURNS 70
Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the enactment of the GI Bill, a landmark piece of legislation that allowed countless veterans the opportunity to pursue a college education.
Our very own Chris Simmons, associate vice president of federal relations at Duke, penned a piece for Durham’s Herald-Sun to celebrate the occasion, the program, and the act of thinking BIG.
A big idea – the GI Bill – turns 70 (Herald Sun)
OP-ED: AN UNEMOTIONAL ARGUMENT FOR FEDERAL INVESTMENT IN RESEARCH
William Press, professor at UT-Austin, and Hunter Rawlings, president of AAU, wrote an op-ed appearing in the Huffington Post that describes vital role of basic scientific research in the development of the technologies that have led to advances in such areas as health care, transportation, and communications, as well as the role the federal government must play in making that investment. But with federal research investment stagnating, the article points out, we face an innovation deficit as other nations rapidly expand their own research and development spending.
Why Science? An Unemotional Argument for Federal Investment in Research (HuffingtonPost)
AAA&S RELEASES HUMANITIES INDICATORS
The American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAA&S) last week made public an update of its website, Humanities Indicators, which provides extensive data on humanities education and research. The website was revamped following last year’s Academy report (co-chaired by President Brodhead), “The Heart of the Matter,” which made the case that the humanities and social sciences play an important role in fostering a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong.
The website data listings, charts, and related materials are divided into five broad areas: K-12 education, higher education, the workforce, funding & research, and public life. The website includes both the amounts and trend lines in humanities research and development funding. This effort is similar to what the National Science Foundation provides for science and technology in its publication, Science & Engineering Indicators.
Humanities Indicators website (humanitiesindicators.org)
HOUSE FINISHES WORK ON FY15 DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS BILL
Following three days of work, the House on Friday approved the FY15 Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 4870). The vote was 293 to 123. The measure would cut defense basic research (6.1) programs by 6.4 percent and applied research (6.2) programs by 2.4 percent. As shown in the below funding chart, basic research funding in all four branches and Defense–wide would receive less than their FY14 levels. Only the Defense-wide program would receive more than the Administration’s FY15 request, an additional $10 million.
AAU Funding Chart (pdf)
HOUSE APPROVES FY15 ENERGY AND WATER APPROPRIATIONS BILL
The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY15 Energy and Water funding bill on June 18. The bill would fund the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science at about $5.071 billion and level fund the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the FY14 amount of $280 million.
The following funding details are available:
· Advanced Computing would receive $541 million, the same as the President’s request and $62.9 million above the FY14 level.
· Basic Energy Sciences would receive $1.702 billion, a cut of $104.5 million from the President’s request and $9.9 million below FY14 funding.
· Biological and Environmental Research would be funded at $540 million, a cut of $88 million from the President’s request and $69.7 million below FY14.
· Fusion Energy Sciences would receive $540 million, which is $124 million above the President’s request and $35.3 million above the FY14 level. Of the total, $315 million would be allocated to the domestic research and facilities program (up $9.3 million from FY14) and $225 million to the international ITER project (up $25 million from FY14).
· High Energy Physics would be funded at $775 million, which is $31 million above the President’s request but a cut of $21.5 million from FY14. Within the total, $22 million would support the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment and $35 million would support the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Camera.
· Nuclear Energy would receive $600 million, which is $6.4 million above the President’s request and $40 million above the FY14 level.The DOE Office of · Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy would be funded at $1.789 billion, which is $527.7 million below the President’s request and $112.7 million below the FY14 level.
IN APPROPRIATIONS BILLS, FULBRIGHT PROGRAM SPARED
The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed flat funding for the Fulbright Program despite the Obama administration’s recommended $30.5 million reduction, the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, an association that lobbies on behalf of international exchange organizations, posted Thursday in a report on its website.
Fulbright alumni and others have mobilized to protest the president’s proposed 13 percent cut to the State Department’s flagship exchange program and – so far – they seem to have been heard. A parallel bill proposed in the House of Representatives and released earlier this week called for “not less than” $236.974 million in Fulbright funding, which would represent a slight increase over current spending levels.
Senate provides 3.9% increase for exchanges in FY15, and full funding for Fulbright and citizen exchanges (alliance-exchange.org)
In Appropriations Bill, Fulbright Program Spared (InsideHigherEd)
FY15 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS STALLS IN SENATE
The Senate began work last week on a package of three FY15 appropriations bills — Commerce-Justice-Science (C-J-S), Agriculture, and Transportation-HUD—but the so-called “minibus” was scuttled when Democrats and Republicans failed to reach agreement on the amendment process. It is unclear how the impasse might be resolved and what impact it may have on the overall FY15 appropriations process. The C-J-S bill funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. Duke OFR will provide updates as they become available.
PROGRESS ON HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION
Leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee have begun developing legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is expected to introduce a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill tomorrow.
Last week, Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Committee member Michael Bennet (D-CO), introduced bipartisan legislation to simplify the process of applying for and receiving federal student financial aid. In addition to simplifying the financial aid application process, the legislation would allow families to use income data from two years prior and receive information earlier than is possible under the current system. The measure also would authorize year-round Pell Grants; consolidate the six federal loan programs into three: one each for undergraduates, graduate students, and parents; simplify repayment options to one income-based plan and one standard 10-year plan; and limit borrowing.
In the House, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today released a white paper outlining key principles that will guide the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. As part of the committee’s continued effort to strengthen America’s higher education system, the white paper includes a number of policy proposals to reform federal postsecondary education law.
Committee Leaders Unveil Principles for Strengthening American’s Higher Education System (edworkforce.house.gov)
White Paper (edworkforce.gov)
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RELEASES PROPOSED RULES ON CAMPUS CRIME DISCLOSURE
The Department of Education has published a set of proposed rules to implement changes in the Clery Act under the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The new proposed rules, published in the Federal Register on June 19, are based on the consensus reached by a negotiated rulemaking panel in April.
Among other changes, the proposed rules would require colleges to compile statistics about incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, in addition to the currently compiled statistics for sexual assaults and certain other crimes. The rules also would add gender identity and national origin as categories of bias under the Clery Act’s definition of hate crimes, and adopt the FBI’s revised, more inclusive definition of rape.
Institutions also would be required to ensure prompt, fair, and impartial disciplinary proceedings; strengthen protections for victim confidentiality; help victims access support and services; and specify requirements for prevention and awareness campaigns.
NSF TOOLKIT HIGHLIGHTS IMPACT OF NSF-FUNDED RESEARCH AND EDUCATION, MERIT REVIEW
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has published on its website a “toolkit” of charts, infographics, reports, brochures, and videos that show the impact of NSF-funded research and education.
The toolkit includes a short video on how NSF support of basic research is a vital element in discovery, innovation, and economic growth, as well as a short animated video that explains the agency’s merit review process.
NSF Toolkit (nsf.gov)
DUKE STUDENT-LED TIME CAPSULE TO MARS HOLDS PRESS EVENT IN DC
The Time Capsule to Mars (TC2M) team, led by rising Duke senior Emily Briere, hosted a press event at the National Press Club on June 23. TC2M’s mission is to do as exactly as the name suggests – to send a time capsule from Earth to Mars – and Monday’s event kicked off the $25 million crowdfunding effort that will fund the mission.
“Our mission is transporting a time capsule that will carry audio, video and photographic data from millions of people around the world,” said Briere, TC2M’s founder and mission director. “People can send in their photo, a picture of their dog or handwritten poem and feel they themselves are going to Mars.”
Engineering Dean Tom Katsouleas also gave remarks.
Time Capsule to Mars Press Event – photo (OFR Facebook page)
Student-Led ‘Time Capsule to Mars’ Funding $25M Mission by Flying Photos (Yahoo News)