DC Digest – March 10, 2014

In Today’s Issue

  • This Week in Washington
  • Higher Education and Research Funding in FY15 Budget Reflect Tight Caps
  • ACE: A Brief Guide to the Budget Process
  • NACUBO Provides Summary of Comprehensive Tax Bill
  • Innovation Deficit Video Spreads the Message
  • Higher Ed Associations Submit Comments to WH Task Force on Sexual Assault

 

THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Ukraine: Congress returns to debating what, and how much, help to offer Ukraine; while at the White House, President Obama will meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to discuss the situation on Wednesday.

Budget: The Administration continues to release details of their FY15 spending plan through agency briefings. On Capitol Hill, appropriators in the House and Senate have signaled they will prepare funding bills adhering to the caps set in place under the budget deal passed in December of 2013 — omitting President Obama’s “Opportunity, Growth, and Security” initiative.

Capitol Hill: The Senate will consider final passage of Sen. Claire McCaskill’s bill to address sexual assault in the military today before turning attention to judicial nominees. The House of Representatives will be debating two bills which would make it easier for legislators to challenge executive action, or inaction, in courts. Duke Law Professor Chris Schroeder testified on these bills before the Judiciary Committe on Feb. 26.

Read More:
Ukrainian PM to visit White House (Politico)
This Week: Appropriators get down to business (The Hill)
Sen. McCaskill’s military sexual assault bill is meatier than advertised (Washington Post)
Duke Faculty Testify in Congressional Hearings on Child Development, Executive Authority (Duke Today)

HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH FUNDING IN FY15 BUDGET REFLECTS TIGHT CAPS
Limited by the discretionary spending caps set by last year’s budget deal—which amount to an increase over FY14 of just $1.6 billion for both defense and nondefense programs—the FY15 budget provides slight increases that do not cover inflation for many research and education programs of interest to the research university community.

AAU expressed disappointment that the President’s proposed budget does little to help close the nation’s innovation deficit.  In fact, funding for basic research across the government would decline slightly.

To bolster spending for the President’s priorities, the budget proposes a supplemental $56-billion fund called the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which would provide additional funding, including an extra $5.3 billion for research, to be paid for by cuts in mandatory programs and tax increases on major corporations and wealthy individuals.  In this election year, the additional funding initiative stands little chance of congressional approval.

Read More:
DC Digest – FY15 Budget Update (governmentrelations.duke.edu)
AAU Budget Summary and Funding Priority Tables (aau.edu)
ACE Roundup of Budget News (acenet.edu)
Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (Whitehouse.gov)

ACE: A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS
The method for funding federal programs can seem extremely convoluted to the casual observer. It references jargon unique not just to Congress, but to budget and appropriations procedures as well. The process is expected to follow a rigid calendar and series of procedures, but those deadlines and procedures lately have rarely been followed.  This brief guide is designed for non-experts as an overview of the federal budget and appropriations process and terminology.

Read More:
A Brief Guide to the Budget and Appropriations Process (ACEnet.edu)

NACUBO PROVIDES SUMMARY OF COMPREHENSIVE TAX BILL
The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) has published a summary of the provisions affecting higher education in the comprehensive tax bill released on February 26 by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).

The four-page summary focuses on four key areas:  student & education tax benefits; employee tax benefits; research; and financing tax-exempt organizations.  The last category includes specifics on charitable giving; tax-exempt bond financing; and unrelated business income, excise taxes, and penalties.

Read More:
NACUBO Summary of Tax Bill (NACUBO)
The Tax Bill Cometh (Inside Higher Ed)

CLOSE-THE-INNOVATION-DEFICIT VIDEO SPREADS THE MESSAGE
More than 5,500 people have now viewed the video that makes the case to Congress to close the “innovation deficit,” the difference between what the federal government is investing in research and higher education and what it needs to be investing to sustain the nation’s global leadership.

The four-minute video, featuring rapidly hand-drawn images and text, explains the direct link between basic research, economic growth, improved medical treatments, and national security, and the risk that recent cuts to research pose to the nation’s role as the global innovation leader at a time when other nations are rapidly increasing their own research investments.

Read More:
Innovation Deficit (innovationdeficit.org)

HIGHER ED ASSOCIATIONS SUBMIT COMMENTS TO WHITE HOUSE TASK FORCE ON SEXUAL ASSAULT
Seven higher education associations submitted comments on March 7 to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, outlining a series of recommendations to consider as the task force drafts a proposal in response to the president’s call to action.

The letter affirmed support for the task force’s work and commitment to ensure a safe, secure environment for students. The letter also urged the task force to use colleges and universities as a resource, so campuses can share their expertise and provide input about the types of initiatives that would best support existing efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault.

Regarding the myriad federal compliance requirements that already exist, the letter old the task force that colleges and universities, students and the public would all benefit from a single, clear set of procedures or guidelines with which to comply.  A unified federal enforcement approach is key, as campuses already must comply with a range of federal laws which all address campus sexual assault.

Read More:
Higher Ed Letter to Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (ACEnet.edu)
Call to Action: Establishing a White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (whitehouse.gov)