DC Digest - March 19, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- House Schedules Showdown Vote on Health Care, Student Loan Reform
- Final Student Loan Bill Offers Aid to Colleges, Students
- Immigration Plan Would Give Green Cards to STEM Grad Students
- Duke Professor Testifies on Freedom of Information Issues before House Subcommittee
- Government Asks Colleges to Enhance the Nation's Internet Capacity
- Chairman Leach, AAU Submit Views on FY11 NEH Funding
HOUSE SCHEDULES VOTE ON HEALTH CARE, STUDENT LOAN REFORM;
After a week of controversy and backroom wrangling, House Democrats released their reconciliation bill—which contains both President Obama's health care reform initiative as well as key elements of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA, H.R. 3221)—and slated the entire package for a final showdown vote this Sunday.
Despite an aggressive advocacy campaign by conservative organizations and the student loan industry, it now appears likely that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will have the votes to achieve final passage of the health care/student loan legislation. Senate action on the measure is scheduled to take place next week before the spring recess. Under reconciliation instructions, the bill will come to the Senate floor with a 20 hour time limit for debate and only 51 votes required for passage. OFR will provide updates as they become available.
FINAL STUDENT LOAN BILL OFFERS AID TO COLLEGES AND STUDENTS
Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration on Thursday outlined their final agreement on legislation to overhaul the government's student-loan system, with the savings providing annual inflation-adjusted increases in the Pell Grant and billions of dollars in additional aid for higher education.
Final Student-Loan Bill Offers Aid to Colleges and Students (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
What's In and What's Out of the Student-Aid Bill (Chronicle of Higher Education)
IMMIGRATION PLAN WOULD GIVE GREEN CARDS TO STEM GRAD STUDENTS
A bipartisan immigration reform plan would give a boost to efforts by American universities to recruit the top science and graduate graduate students from around the world. The plan -- unveiled in an op-ed in The Washington Post by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, a South Carolina Republican -- would give a green card to those from outside the United States who receive a doctoral or master's degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
"It makes no sense to educate the world's future inventors and entrepreneurs and then force them to leave when they are able to contribute to our economy," wrote the two senators. Countries that compete with the United States for top graduate students generally make it much easier for them to stay after they finish their educations than does the U.S., and that difference has become a key differentiator. While the plan is far from a sure thing and anti-immigration politicians have had success in killing off reform efforts in the past, the involvement of a leading Republican in the plan gave some hope that this one might receive more consideration.
The above paragraphs courtesy of Inside Higher Ed "Quick Takes."
The Right Way to Mend Immigration (The Washington Post)
DUKE PROFESSOR TESTIFIES ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ISSUES BEFORE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE
Duke Professor Sarah Cohen, Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy, testified on Thursday before the House Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee, a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing was entitled, "Administration of the Freedom of Information Act: Current Trends" and included panels of leading experts in the field.
Testimony of Sarah Cohen
GOVERNMENT ASKS COLLEGES TO ENHANCE THE NATION'S INTERNET CAPACITY
Universities have been in the advanced-networking business for years, building systems to ship their scientists' data over the Internet and connecting partners like museums and high schools in the process. Now the federal government has proposed expanding academe's role in the Internet further, by enlisting institutions in an effort to bring ultra-high-speed access to more community institutions.
On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its long-awaited inaugural plan for national broadband access. The 360-page plan, "Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan," lays out a blueprint for building a national high-speed network for the Internet on the existing foundation of regional and national networks, much of it established by the nonprofit university community.
The plan makes several recommendations of particular interest to higher education, including establishment by the National Science Foundation of interdisciplinary research centers, possible revision of copyright laws to clarify educational uses with respect to digital content and online learning, and public funding of high-speed broadband connections for all community colleges.
Government Asks Colleges to Enhance the Nation's Internet Capacity (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan (broadband.gov)
LEACH, AAU SUBMIT VIEWS ON FY11 NEH FUNDING
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides great value to the nation and deserves strong support in FY11, according to separate testimonies provided Wednesday to the House Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee by NEH Chair Jim Leach and by AAU.
Appearing before the panel, Leach said that the American people have been well served by NEH projects and programs and asked Members to continue their support of “this small agency committed to expanding the idea base of America.”
AAU President Robert M. Berdahl submitted written testimony to the subcommittee that requests $204 million in program funds, including $144 million for national programs, which would be an increase of $44.4 million above FY10. It also requests $60 million for the federal/state partnership, an increase of $19.6 million above FY10. The Administration has requested an FY11 budget for NEH of $161 million, a cut of nearly four percent from the FY10 level of $168 million.
Leach NEH Testimony