DC Digest – November 11, 2013

In Today’s Issue:

  • This Week in Washington
  • NC Reps Tour Airport Security Research at Duke
  • AAU, APLU Urge FY14 Budget Conferees to Help Close Innovation Deficit
  • Senate Commerce Committee Hears Support for Strong COMPETES Reauthorization
  • U.S.-UK Launch Global Innovation Initiative for Research Partnerships
  • Associations Weigh In on House Patent Litigation Bill
  • Opinion: Need for Better Data Trumps Need for College Ratings


THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON

  • Ongoing News: The Department of Health and Human Services will release the number of individuals who enrolled for health care during the month of October. Secretary of State John Kerry returns from P-5 talks in Geneva and will provide a briefing on the status of negotiations for all Senators.
  • Economic Markers: The Senate Banking Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen to be the first chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Thursday, Nov. 14. On the same day, the US will release official data on the trade balance. Friday will bring reports of manufacturing activity.
  • House of Representatives: Will consider legislation allowing individuals to keep their health care plan if they like it. Two Democratic Senators, Mary Landrieu (LA) and Joe Manchin (WV), have introduced similar legislation.
  • Senate: Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that the Senate will consider legislation creating a national system of tracing drugs throughout the supply chain, as maintained by Food and Drug Administration. Other issues expected to come up: minimum wage, the National Defense Authorization Act, and further judicial nominations.  Both the House and Senate will also hold full committee hearings on federal student aid this week.
  • Supreme Court Docket: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear the first of two cases involving unions and their ability to execute neutrality agreements with employers.

Read More:
Yellen’s Confirmation Hearing for Fed Set for Nov. 14 (Wall Street Journal)
House GOP tweaks Obama, Schedules Vote on Keep Your Health Care Plan Act (The Hill)
Supreme Court to Take Up Challenges to Union Practices (New York Times)


NC REPS TOUR AIRPORT SECURITY RESEARCH AT DUKE

Three members of the North Carolina delegation to Congress –  Reps. Richard Hudson (R-NC), George Holding (R-NC), and David Price (D-NC) – visited campus on November 6 to tour research labs and view demonstrations of airport security research projects happening at Duke.

Read More:
Event Recap: Three NC Reps Demo Federally-Funded Airport Security Research at Duke (governmentrelations.duke.edu)


AAU, APLU URGE FY14 BUDGET CONFEREES TO HELP CLOSE THE INNOVATION DEFICIT

AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) on November 4 sent a letter to the FY14 budget conference committee members urging them to reach an agreement that repeals the sequester, at least temporarily, and makes possible greater investments in research and higher education in order to help close the innovation deficit.  AAU President Hunter Rawlings and APLU President Peter McPherson wrote that the budget plan should include modest entitlement reforms that do not harm those in need.

Read More:
AAU, APLU Letter Urging End to Sequestration (pdf)

SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE HEARS SUPPORT FOR STRONG COMPETES ACT REAUTHORIZATION
At a hearing convened on November 5 by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Senators both heard and expressed strong support for reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act.  Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) used his opening statement to refer to the new Science Coalition report, “Sparking Economic Growth 2.0,” to show the vital role that federally funded research plays in creating new businesses and in stimulating the U.S. economy.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who was a major force behind passage of the original COMPETES Act in 2007, urged his colleagues to finish the job they began six years ago by authorizing a doubling of the budgets for the four research agencies included in the legislation.  The agencies are the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

To help support his case, Senator Alexander entered into the record the letter endorsed by more than 300 academic, scientific, and business institutions and associations – including Duke University – in all 50 states that calls on the Commerce Committee to introduce and pass a strong America COMPETES Act to help close the nation’s innovation deficit.

Read More:
Hearing – America COMPETES: Science and the US Economy (Commerce.senate.gov)
Sparking Economic Growth 2.0 – Science Coalition Report (Sciencecoalition.org)
Duke-Endorsed Letter Calling for Strong COMPETES Act (pdf)


U.S.-UK LAUNCH GLOBAL INNOVATION INITIATIVE FOR MULTILATERAL RESEARCH PARTNERSHIPS

The governments of the United States and United Kingdom have launched the Global Innovation Initiative, a new higher education grant competition created to strengthen higher education research partnerships between the U.S., the U.K., and selected countries.  The partner countries have been identified as Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. The initiative will provide university consortia with grant opportunities in science and technology.  The grants will be on topics of global significance in four areas: energy, climate change, and the environment; agriculture, food security, and water; public health and wellbeing; and urbanization.

Read More:
Global Innovation Initiative


ASSOCIATIONS WEIGH IN ON HOUSE PATENT LITIGATION BILL

The six higher education associations that have been working together on patent reform – AAU, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of University Technology Managers, and the Council on Governmental Relations – issued a statement last week about the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309), legislation aimed at improving U.S. innovation and economic competitiveness by addressing abusive patent infringement lawsuits.

The associations’ statement expresses strong support for the goals of the bill, delineates provisions of particular concern to universities, and offers recommendations for change.  The statement provides detailed analysis of several provisions in the bill, including those that deal with fee-shifting of legal costs, heightened pleading standards, increased transparency of patent ownership, and limitations on discovery.

The bipartisan measure, introduced by Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and committee members Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), was the subject of a committee hearing on October 29.

Read More:
Statement from Higher Ed Community on HR 3309 (pdf)

OPINION: NEED FOR BETTER DATA TRUMPS NEED FOR COLLEGE RATINGS
The Obama administration is moving full steam ahead with its plan to rate colleges, with public hearings beginning last week and the goal of releasing a draft ratings system in the spring that will be finalized by December 2014.

The specific methodology used to generate ratings of college quality is always subject to debate. Even if a perfect methodology did exist, it would be worthless without access to good data.

Read More:
Need for Better Data Trumps Need for College Ratings (Brookings)