DC Digest – March 30, 2015

In Today’s Issue:

  • President Brodhead Discusses Funding, Student Aid in Hill Visits
  • Katsouleas Presents Engineering Education Pledge to White House
  • Jentleson Named Kissinger Chair at Library of Congress
  • Dukies on the Move
  • House and Senate Considering Respective FY16 Budget Resolutions
  • Student Aid Alliance Strongly Opposes House Budget Resolution
  • Senator Durbin Introduces American Innovation Act
  • Senators Introduce Manufacturing Universities Bill
  • House Passes “Secret Science” Bill

President Brodhead traveled to DC on March 24th to discuss issues related to sequestration, research funding, the future of the National Science Foundation (NSF), reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and student aid.

While on Capitol Hill, Brodhead met with Senator Rand Paul (M ’88, R-KY), Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Senator Shelley Moore Capito (T ’75, R-WV), Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Representative Dave Trott (L ’85, R-MI) to discuss these and other topics.

Read More:
President Brodhead Talks Sequestration, Student Aid in DC (FederalRelations.duke.edu)


In a letter of commitment presented to President Barack Obama last week, Duke and more than 120 other U.S. engineering schools announced plans to

Tom Katsouleas, Dean of Pratt School of Engineering, was part of a five-person delegation that delivered a letter of commitment to the White House today, pledging to educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century.  The initiative, co-led by Katlsouleas, Yannis Yortsos (University of Southern California), and Richard Miller (Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering), was signed by more than 120 engineering deans.

Read More:

Bruce W. Jentleson, an accomplished American foreign policy scholar and former senior advisor at the U.S. State Department, has been selected as the 15th Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress Kluge Center.

While in residence, Jentleson will use Library of Congress holdings including the Harry Truman, Dag Hammarskjöld and Henry Kissinger papers, documents related to the Middle East peace process, and the Foreign Relations of the United States volumes to further his research and complete his forthcoming book, Transformational Statesmanship: Difficult, Possible, Necessary.
Read More:
Jentleson Named Kissinger Chair at LOC (sanford.duke.edu)
Steve Chartan (T ’10) was recently named executive director of the House Freedom Caucus. Chartan joins the caucus from Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s office, where he was a policy adviser for the Senate Steering Committee.

LaRonda Peterson (T ’96) has joined the Kaiser Family Foundation to become managing editor of Kaiser Health News and to serve on the senior staff of KFF.  Peterson was most recently deputy managing editor at POLITICOPro.


The House and Senate have each approved their respective budget resolutions for FY16. They will attempt to work out the differences between the two versions in a conference committee when Congress returns from the two-week recess that began on Friday. Although details differ between chambers, both versions contain significant increases for defense spending, and significant cuts to nondefense discretionary spending.

The House version proposes to reduce federal spending over the next 10 years by $5.5 trillion through cuts to several entitlement and mandatory programs and to nondefense discretionary spending. The Senate version, which contains far fewer details than the House version, proposes to cut less spending over 10 years than the House – $4.4 trillion rather than $5.5 trillion.  Both versions would eliminate the mandatory portion of Pell Grant funding and propose other changes to higher education programs, including moving student loans to a scoring system called “fair-value accounting,” which would show student loans adding to the federal deficit over time, rather than earning the government money.

On the way to approving its FY16 budget resolution, the Senate held a lengthy “vote-a-rama,” during which Senators voted on 49 non-binding amendments that expressed support or opposition to various policies and issues.  Several senators offered amendments supporting university priorities like increased research funding and simplifying student loan repayment.

Read More:
AAU Issues Statement Opposing House and Senate Budget Resolutions (pdf)


The Student Aid Alliance, a group of 80+ organizations and institutions sent a letter to all Members of the House on March 19 expressing strong opposition to the House FY16 budget resolution because it would cut more than $150 billion in federal student aid over the next 10 years.The letter says, “It would be difficult to overstate the significant negative impact this budget resolution would have on American college students,” citing several examples, including the measure’s proposed cuts in the Pell Grant program, elimination of the in-school interest subsidy for low-income borrowers, and a cut in domestic discretionary spending of $759 billion over the next 10 years. The letter concludes:”We urge you to affirm the historic, bipartisan commitment Congress has made to America’s students and reject the draconian cuts proposed in the House Budget Resolution. The pathway to economic growth requires a continued investment in postsecondary education.”

Read More:
Student Aid Alliance Opposes House FY16 Budget Resolution (pdf)


Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) on March 16 introduced the American Innovation Act (S. 747), legislation to provide significant and steady increases in federal non-biomedical research funding over the next decade. The measure would authorize annual budget increases of five percent above inflation over the next 10 years for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, science and technology programs at the Department of Defense, the NASA Science Directorate, and science and technical research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The bill is a complement to the American Cures Act (S. 289), which Senator Durbin introduced earlier this year to provide similar funding growth for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


A bipartisan group of five Senators on March 18 introduced a bill that aims to strengthen university engineering programs and high-tech manufacturing by designating 25 universities as “manufacturing universities.” The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015-introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)-would provide each designated university with $5 million per year for four years to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering education programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, expanding training opportunities, and promoting manufacturing entrepreneurship. The program would be run by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, in coordination with other federal agencies.

Many in the higher ed community have endorsed the bill.

Read More:
Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Bill to Designate “Manufacturing Universities” (Coons.senate.gov)


The House of Representatives on March 17 approved the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 1030), legislation that seeks to increase access to the research findings that underlie regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A group of 35 associations and universities, including Duke, wrote to Members of the House of Representatives on March 16 expressing serious concerns about the possible unintended consequences of the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015.

The organizations’ letter, spearheaded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, details the research community’s concerns about key terms in the bill, the difficulty and high cost of reproducing long-term public health and other studies, and the uncompensated financial burden on research grant recipients of sharing and archiving research results that might be used in a regulatory action by EPA.

The organizations note that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is working with federal agencies to establish policies on access to research data and suggests that Congress “wait to review the agency policies before imposing new statutory requirements.”

Read More:
Higher Ed Letter Outlining Concerns Over HR 1030 (pdf)