September 19, 2014


Senate Sends Stopgap to President

The Senate on Thursday easily cleared a continuing resolution that would fund the federal government for 10 weeks and provide short-term authorization for the military to train and equip Syrian rebels. The stopgap (H J Res 124) sailed through 78-22, a day after winning broad support in the House. Thirty-three Republicans joined most Democrats to pass the measure . . . (CQ News - Sept. 18, 2014)

White House Plans to Roll Out Campaign Against Sexual Violence on Campuses

Men who stay silent when their buddies assault women are about to get an earful, thanks to a national public-service campaign that President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will announce on Friday. It's called "It's On Us," and the "us" actually stands for everyone on a campus who can take steps to prevent sexual assault. But the campaign, which is being joined by student leaders at about 200 colleges, is urging men in particular to step in when threats of violence occur. (Chronicle of Higher Education - Sept. 18, 2014)

College Presidents Have Authority to Reform Athletics, 3 U.S. Senators Say

Three Democratic U.S. senators sent letters on Thursday to the presidents of the colleges that make up the five major athletic conferences, asking them to complete a survey about the experiences of athletes at their institutions, CBS Sports reports. The survey features 21 questions on subjects including concussions and the cost of attendance. The senators alluded to the NCAA's recent governance changes giving more autonomy to the power conferences, writing that the presidents "now possess the authority" to reform college sports. The senators asked the presidents to respond by Oct. 17. (Chronicle of Higher Education - Sept 18, 2014)

Bad Bugs Inspire White House Task Force and $20 Million Prize

In the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the U.S. government is dangling a new incentive: a $20 million prize for a quick diagnostic test to recognize highly resistant infections. Alongside the prize, the administration announced a national strategy that sets goals to be achieved by 2020, including better surveillance of highly resistant infections, faster development of new antibiotics, and more judicious use of existing drugs. The president also signed an executive order creating both an advisory council of nongovernmental experts and an interagency task force, co-chaired by the secretaries of the Health and Human Services, Defense, and Agriculture departments . . . (ScienceInsider - Sept. 18,2014)

Security Assessment Planned for HealthCare.gov, Tavenner Vows

The [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)] plans to perform, by the end of September, a comprehensive security assessment of HealthCare.gov to determine if any site vulnerabilities exist, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said at a congressional hearing Thursday. She also testified that, as of Aug. 15, 7.3 million people have coverage through the federal and state exchanges, nearly a million less than the agency had announced this past spring. (Modern Healthcare - Sept. 18, 2014)

Fight Over Digital Accessibility

Advocates for students with disabilities and groups representing colleges and universities are sparring over federal legislation that would set new standards for accessible technology on campuses. At issue is a four-page provision in Senator Tom Harkin's, D-Iowa, massive proposal to rewrite the Higher Education Act that would require a federal board to establish guidelines for evaluating whether instructional materials and other technology used on campuses are accessible to students with disabilities. [A]dvocacy groups for students with disabilities, say the guidelines will improve accessibility to the technology . . . Higher education associations, however, say the legislation would burden campuses with new legal requirements and stifle innovation. (Inside Higher Ed - Sept. 19, 2014)

Rand Paul, Chuck Grassley Shine a Light on the Nonprofit Climate-Change Group NEON

Two senators are investigating whether the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Defense Department auditors skirted federal laws by signing off on a nonprofit organization's use of taxpayer money for "unallowable expenses," including alcohol, lobbying and extravagant parties. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said the practice came to his attention earlier this year when a whistleblower provided him with a draft audit . . . The senators said they are concerned that what they saw in the NEON draft audit may be a "widespread" problem with NSF grant programs since documents show the foundation was aware of the expenses and paid them. (Washington Post - Sept. 18, 2014)

SoAR Foundation Selects First President

The Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, of which the Association of American Universities is a member, today announced that Tom Grumbly has been appointed president and a member of the Foundation's board of directors. Among other positions, Grumbly has served as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy, and also in leadership roles at the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. He also served as staff director of the House Committee on Science and Technology's subcommittee on investigations. (Association of American Universities - Sept. 17, 2014)

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a Top White House National Security Council Official, Confirmed as Deputy Secretary of Department of Energy

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, as the Department of Energy's Deputy Secretary. As Deputy Secretary, Sherwood-Randall will support Secretary Moniz in the management and operation of the Department of Energy. (U.S. Department of Energy - Sept. 18, 2014)


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