VU on the Hill – April 2016
Both House and Senate are moving forward with the FY 17 appropriations process, each having released four of the twelve appropriations bills. Of particular interest to Vanderbilt, the Commerce-Justice-Science bill is moving in the Senate and the Energy-Water bills are progressing in both chambers. Both Energy bills contain a $50 million, or 1 percent, increase for the Department of Energy's Office of Science (though the components of the Office of Science were funded differently in each bill). The Senate Science bill contained a very slight ($46 million, less than 1 percent) increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and an even smaller ($21 million) increase for NASA. Please contact the Office of Federal Relations for further details on the appropriations process.
After being stalled on the Senate floor for almost three months, the Senate approved the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which contains the energy title of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, on April 20. The bill would reauthorize the DOE Office of Science and ARPA-E for five years, including a seven percent annual increase in authorized funding.
If you have been on Capitol Hill, please let us know so we can highlight your activity. In addition to serving as the primary federal advocacy office for the University, the Office of Federal Relations helps coordinate meetings for campus officials on Capitol Hill as well as crafting and refining an effective advocacy message. Please don't hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance. (Office of Federal Relations – May 2, 2016)
Higher Education News:
Associations Submit Comments on Teacher Preparation Regulations
The Department of Education issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on March 31 to address issues raised by the higher education community regarding the Department's proposed regulations on the treatment of distance teacher-preparation programs. The higher education community has identified serious problems with the March 31 supplemental NPRM and has spelled them out in joint comments to the Department, submitted on April 28. The associations' comments outline three broad areas of concern:
The letter concludes:
"While we strongly share the Department's goals of improving teacher preparation and ensuring that America's educators succeed, the proposals contained in the supplemental NPRM would undermine those aims and instead result in the introduction of significant confusion and negative unintended consequences. In this way, the approaches identified in the supplemental NPRM mirror the broader regulatory package, and we would repeat the request made in our earlier comments that this effort be abandoned. This is particularly relevant in light of the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which bars the Department from prescribing the structure of state teacher evaluation systems." (Association of American Universities - April 29, 2016)
*** See also, the following related news item:
Education Dept. Grants Researchers More Data Access
The U.S. Department of Education will offer researchers new access to federal data for studies that "can inform and advance policies and practices that support students' postsecondary success and strengthen repayment outcomes for borrowers," the White House announced last week. The pilot program will allow experts -- starting with Federal Reserve Board researchers this fall -- to apply to access and match student-aid data files with other surveys and administrative data, the Obama administration said, while keeping data safeguards in place. (Inside Higher Ed - May 2, 2016)
Federal Default Rate Adjustment List Published
The Wall Street Journal on Friday published an article revealing the 21 colleges that benefited from an adjustment the U.S. Department of Education made to the institutions' student loan default rates. The department had not disclosed which colleges received the controversial default-rate tweaks, even when members of the U.S. Congress asked. The newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request to get the list, as did Inside Higher Ed, unsuccessfully. But the department mistakenly released the information to the Journal. (Inside Higher Ed - May 2, 2016)
Education Dept. Releases Title IX Exemptions, Requests
The Education Department is now making public a list of all the colleges and universities that have received religious exemptions to parts of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The department is also making public a list of those currently requesting the exemptions. The Education Department has to date responded to requests about whether given colleges have asked for or received exemptions, but the new webpage with all of the lists means that someone could check on any college. (Inside Higher Ed - May 2, 2016)
House Committee Approves Bill to Strengthen IHEs & DHS
On Thursday, the House Homeland Security Committee approved legislation that would seek to establish closer ties among the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), institutions of higher education, and states. The bill formally grants DHS authority to work with the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium, a coalition of five universities, to train state and local first responders. It also requires DHS to reach out to other universities to collaborate on state and local response to cyber incidents. (Council of Graduate Schools - April 29, 2016)
Items of Note:
DCbrief is a report intended to provide key members of the Vanderbilt community with a timely summary of developments in the nation’s capital. Visit our website for current and back issues of DCbrief.