DC Digest — September 18, 2015

  • This Week in Washington
  • Higher Ed, Businesses to Congress: Replace Sequester
  • Dept. of Ed Releases College Scorecard
  • Higher Ed. Community Submits Comments on Proposed Overtime Rule
  • Associations Provide Open Access Guidance, Online Resources
  • Golden Goose: Third Set of Award Winners Announced

THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
Federal Government Funding: With two weeks left until the end of the fiscal year, Congress must act quickly to prevent a government shutdown, but Congressional leadership has yet to announce how they will do so. Today, Democratic leaders will meet with President Obama to discuss strategy, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed support of a ‘clean’ spending bill. To that end, he has announced that the Senate will vote Tuesday on legislation dealing with Planned Parenthood funding, an issue that has become entangled with the must-pass funding measure. Staff in the Office of Federal Relations continue to monitor the situation.

Congress: The House considers legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, while the Senate continues to debate a measure expressing disapproval of the Iran nuclear agreement.

Federal Reserve: Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen spoke publicly for the first time since mid-July yesterday, when she announced that the Federal Reserve will leave its main borrowing rate near zero. The announcement came following weeks of speculation that global market turmoil would delay a hike in borrowing costs.

Get ready: Experts say a government shutdown is now even more likely

HIGHER ED, BUSINESSES TO CONGRESS: REPLACE SEQUESTER
Under the banner of NDD United, a group of 2,500 organizations including the Association of American Universities, sent a letter to all Members of Congress on September 10 urging them to replace sequester-level budget caps in a balanced manner for both defense and non defense discretionary (NDD) programs. The letter notes that strong investments in both NDD and defense are necessary to “keep our country competitive, safe, and secure.”

DEPT. OF ED RELEASES COLLEGE SCORECARD
On September 12, the Department of Education released the College Scorecard, a website relying on a trove of data to compare schools based on what their alums earn, along with price, financial aid, student retention, and diversity, among other details. The “Scorecard” replaced the more controversial proposal from the Administration to rate institutions.  A statement about the Scorecard from the American Council on Education (ACE) can be found here.

HIGHER ED. COMMUNITY SUBMITS COMMENTS ON PROPOSED OVERTIME RULE
Earlier in September, the American Association of University (AAU) joined with 16 other higher education organizations in filing extensive comments on the Labor Department’s proposed changes to overtime pay requirements for certain “white collar” employees, including postdocs. Among several proposed changes to the white collar exemptions is a proposal to increase the annual salary threshold of $23,660 to $50,440, a 113-percent increase. The proposed changes, if enacted, will have serious implications for research grant support to postdocs, among other issues.

ASSOCIATIONS PROVIDE OPEN ACCESS GUIDANCE, ONLINE RESOURCES
In August, the American Association of Universities and the Association of Research Libraries issued a memorandum detailing how campuses should comply with forthcoming agency grant rules on providing public access to results of federally funded research. The memo also included a list of online resources.

GOLDEN GOOSE: THIRD SET OF AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED
For their visionary interdisciplinary research on how human populations are distributed by altitude, Drs. Joel E. Cohen and Christopher Small have been selected as the third winners of the 2015 Golden Goose Award. Their pioneering research on hypsographic demography has provided crucial insights in areas as diverse as food production and packaging, semiconductor manufacturing, and biomedical research and development.