DC Digest - May 24, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- Chasing Conflicts of Interest
- Common Sense in the Treatment of Private Loans in Bankruptcy
- Science Research Bill Stumbles Again
- Arlen Specter - Key Research Backer - Defeated
- Senator Grassley: IRS Report Shows Universities Should Spend More
- Mission Accomplished
CHASING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
The National Institutes of Health on Thursday proposed significant changes in federal regulations governing financial conflicts of interest in biomedical research -- changes that would increase the expectations (and, they are likely to argue, the burden) on universities to examine and report potentially problematic entanglements. The Notice of Proposed Rule Making, which was published today in the Federal Register, comes amid escalating agitation over corporate influences on higher education generally and over the sway of pharmaceutical companies on biomedical research in particular. NIH Director Francis Collins says that applying new rules on financial conflicts of interest is one way to ensure bias-free, high-quality research amid a culture where corporate and researcher partnerships are essential.
Chasing Conflicts of Interest (InsideHigherEd)
COMMON SENSE IN THE TREATMENT OF PRIVATE LOANS IN BANKRUPTCY
Momentum appears to be growing in Congress for changing federal law to allow individuals to borrow money for education without undue risk to their financial futures. Specifically, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) have offered standalone legislation, S. 3219, and H.R. 5043, respectively, that would restore the common-sense treatment of private student loans in personal bankruptcy. This guest post on Higher Ed Watch discusses the issues involved and important points that lawmakers should consider as changes are considered.
Guest Post: A Dose of Common Sense in the Treatment of Private Loans in Bankruptcy (Higher Ed Watch)
SCIENCE RESEARCH BILL STUMBLES AGAIN
Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday once again rebuffed legislation (HR 5325) designed to strengthen federal support for academic research. For the second time in a week, an insufficient number of lawmakers voted in favor of legislation to renew the America COMPETES Act, the 2007 law that set out to double federal funding of the physical sciences. Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill Wednesday, said they supported its goals but continued to believe it would authorize too much federal spending and create too many new programs. Democrats said that they were disappointed that the changes they had made in the legislation since last week were deemed insufficient, and that they would continue trying. -from Inside Higher Ed
Science Innovation Legislation Receives Bipartisan Support, but Does Not Garner the Two-Thirds Majority Required (House Science and Technology Committee)
ARLEN SPECTER - KEY RESEARCH BACKER - DEFEATED
Sen. Arlen Specter's defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania will end a political career in which the senator was frequently a key ally of advocates for biomedical research and education. Specter, a Republican until last year, was for many years the ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over spending on education programs and the National Institutes of Health -- and he backed spending increases in both areas, in particular for the NIH. Joe Sestak, who defeated Specter, doesn't differ from him significantly in views on those issues.
SENATOR GRASSLEY: IRS REPORT SHOWS UNIVERSITIES SHOULD SPEND MORE
An Internal Revenue Service report shows that the wealthiest colleges and universities should be spending a greater percentage of their endowments, according to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley. The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said he is concerned that 5 percent has become a "ceiling" for colleges and that the wealthier institutions should be spending more. However, forcing universities to spend more of their endowments would discourage diversified investing and push them toward more conservative portfolios, said James K. Hasson Jr., a lawyer who represents tax-exempt institutions.
IRS Survey Shows Schools Hoard Funds, Grassley Says (Bloomberg)
The U.S. Education Department confirmed Tuesday that Robert Shireman, the U.S. deputy under secretary of education, will leave his position in early July after 14 months in the job. Shireman came to Washington with one clear but ambitious goal: ending the lender-based student loan program. Eliminating lending through FFELP was among his signature accomplishments, but how else did he impact the department?
Mission Accomplished (Inside Higher Ed)