DC Digest – March 17, 2017

In Today’s Issue:
  • Responses to Presidential Budget
  • Student Loans Get Fees, Again
  • Duke in the District


President Trump’s first budget proposal drew responses from constituencies and concerned budget watchers yesterday.


A group of America’s elite universities reacted to President Trump’s budget proposal yesterday, saying it would “cripple American innovation and economic growth.”

Mary Sue Coleman, the president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), condemned the president’s proposed cuts to “vital scientific research” at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, NASA, NOAA and other agencies. Coleman called cuts to programs that help low-income students pay for college “shortsighted,” saying they would be “a major setback.”

“This proposal would lead to a U.S. innovation deficit, as it comes at a time when China and other economic competitors continue their investment surge in research and higher education,” Coleman said.

AAU Speaks 

North Carolina

Although North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have yet to release statements, local Congressmen G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and David Price (D-NC) did release statements.



Cancer ‘Moonshot’

Cancer researchers and advocacy groups are denouncing President Trump’s proposed budget, warning that its 19 percent cut for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could greatly inhibit former Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer “moonshot” initiative and other important biomedical efforts.

Cancer Research


The leadership of three Congressional committees wants more information about the IRS and Education Department’s sudden decision earlier this month to suspend an online tool that helps students apply for financial aid.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool – which allows students to automatically input tax information onto their aid form – was taken offline as a result of “criminal activity.”


The Education Department announced Thursday it was reversing an Obama administration directive that prohibited student loan collectors from charging certain fees. The 2015 guidance had prohibited guaranty agencies that collect federally-backed loans from imposing collection fees when borrowers default on their debt but quickly agree to start repaying. The guidance affected hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for tens of thousands of student loan borrowers.


D.C. welcomed several prominent Duke professors recently as they spent their days advocating on the Hill and pushing the interests of higher education. Visiting Professor of Linguistics and Eurasian Studies Michael Newcity, Associate Professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy as well as the Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security David Schanzer, Professor of Global Health and Romance Studies Deborah Jenson, and Associate Professor of History Edward Balleisen recently completed advocacy days on the Hill. Although visiting on separate days, their topics graced everything from the value of funding the humanities, the importance of history in writing regulation law, to the threat of domestic white-extremism.