DC Digest - October 1, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- Congress Adjourns for Midterm Elections with Unfinished Business
- Congress Approves NASA Reauthorization
- Senate Confirms NSF Director
- Science R&D Spending Reached $55B in Higher Ed in 2009
- Gates Praises Service, Sacrifice of All-Volunteer Force During Lecture at Duke
- Duke Law Professor Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee
- Action Continues in Stem Cell Lawsuit
- In 5-Year Plan for Student Aid, Department Promises Better Oversight of Lenders and For-Profit Colleges
- Senate Holds Third Hearing on For-Profit Colleges
- Opinion: The Horror, The Horror of Midterm Elections
- Around Washington: College Prices, Student Data
CONGRESS ADJOURNS FOR MIDTERM ELECTIONS WITH UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Congress adjourned this week after passing a stop-gap funding measure to keep the government running through Dec. 3 while lawmakers return home to campaign in the midterm elections. The funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), is necessary because Congress failed to finalize any of the 12 FY 2011 appropriations bills. The CR will fund the government at current-year levels—and includes nothing else. Some congressional staff hoped to include funding for the $5.7 billion Pell Grant shortfall in this bill, but in the end, it did not happen.
Left on the agenda were extensions of several expired or expiring tax provisions important to higher education. These include the tuition tax deduction, the IRA Charitable Rollover and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides $10,000 in tuition relief for each child attending four years of college, among others.
The unfinished business sets up a potentially very busy lame duck session after the elections. Congress will return the week of Nov. 15, break for Thanksgiving, and then return for the first week in December.Read More:
Senate Appropriations Committee CR Summary (Appropriations.senate.gov)
CONGRESS APPROVES NASA REAUTHORIZATION
The House of Representatives on September 29 approved the Senate-passed version of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (S. 3729), sending the bill to the President for signature. The House vote, which was 304 to 118, came after weeks of negotiations between the two chambers over a final bill. House leaders finally opted to vote on the Senate bill.
Among other elements, S. 3729 authorizes $58 billion in federal funding for the space agency for fiscal years 2011-2013. The bill also underscores the importance of Earth science and observation missions, support for space science research, and robust support for aeronautics and space technology development.
SENATE CONFIRMS NSF DIRECTOR
The Senate on September 29 confirmed Subra Suresh as director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a six-year term. Dr. Suresh, who is a former dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was nominated by the President in June. Suresh replaces Arden L. Bement, Jr., who led the agency from 2004 until he resigned in May of this year.
Subrah Suresh Confirmed as NSF Director (NSF.gov)
SCIENCE R&D SPENDING REACHED $55B IN HIGHER ED IN 2009
Colleges and universities reported $54.9 billion in spending on science and engineering research and development during the 2009 fiscal year, up 5.8 percent from the previous year, according to data released by the National Science Foundation. The largest field within the total is the life sciences, at $32.8 billion, an increase of 5.1 percent. Among all subfields tracked, the largest percentage increase was physics, up 16.4 percent to $1.9 billion. Mathematics saw a 10.9 percent decrease, to $553 million.
In terms of which universities are spending the most on science and engineering R&D, the NSF found very little change. The top five institutions have remained the same since 2004: Johns Hopkins University (in large part because its totals include spending at the Applied Physics Laboratory), University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of California at San Francisco, and the University of California at Los Angeles. -From Inside Higher Ed
Universities Report $55 Billion in Science and Engineering R&D Spending for FY09 (NSF.gov)
GATES PRAISES SERVICE, SACRIFICE OF ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE DURING LECTURE AT DUKE
More of the nation's leading universities should join Duke in providing officers and others to serve in the military, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a packed Page Auditorium Wednesday evening. Gates said the American people are losing contact with those who make up its military, and the nation needs to understand the service and sacrifices that U.S. military personnel and their families make.
The Secretary also spoke to a group of ROTC cadets from Duke and three other local universities and guest lectured to students in the American Grand Strategy Class as a part of his visit to campus.
Gates Praises Service, Sacrifice of All-Volunteer Force During Lecture at Duke (Defense.gov)
Gates Calls Upon Students to Join Military (Duke News)
DUKE LAW PROFESSOR TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
Professor Samuel W. Buell testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Sept. 28. A former federal prosecutor and member of the Enron Task Force, Buell addressed the fate of fraud prosecutions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Skilling.
Buell Testimony (Judiciary.senate.gov)
Hearing Information and Webcast (Judiciary.senate.gov)
ACTION CONTINUES IN STEM CELL LAWSUIT
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has extended the stay of the preliminary injunction which briefly halted federal funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, allowing NIH to continue funding the research for now.
The continuation was in response to an emergency motion filed by the Justice Department and remains in place pending the government’s appeal of the injunction itself, which is still being considered by the Court of Appeals.
Stem Cell Research Can Continue Throughout the Appeal, Court Says (LA Times)
IN 5-YEAR PLAN FOR STUDENT AID, DEPARTMENT PROMISES BETTER OVERSIGHT OF LENDERS AND FOR-PROFITS
In a new strategic plan, the Education Department's student-aid arm promises to improve its outreach to students and "intensify efforts" to reduce fraud and abuse in its programs.
The document, "Federal Student Aid: Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2011-15,"lays out five "strategic goals" for the department's Office of Federal Student Aid and sets performance targets for each of them for the next five years.
Federal Student Aid Strategic Plan FY2011-15 (Ed.gov)
In 5-Year Plan for Student Aid, Department Promises Better Oversight (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
SENATE HOLDS THIRD HEARING ON FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee continued its investigation into the for-profit education sector with a hearing yesterday focusing on the question of whether career college students are succeeding.
The hearing was marked by considerable partisan divide, reflecting the divergent opinions held about the for-profit sector in general and specifically about the Department of Education’s proposed “gainful employment” rule. Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) unveiled a new report to the panel summarizing the data from 30 for-profit institutions he requested in June.
Senate Holds Hearing on For-Profit Colleges (ACE.edu)
OPINION: THE HORROR, THE HORROR OF MIDTERM ELECTIONS
A Vice President for Government Relations writes (under a pseudonym):
"Many pro-education senators, representatives, and governors are expected to go down in defeat [in the upcoming midterm elections]. If they do, a pro-education president will be severely wounded. So now, in the final days of the campaign, what should we do?"
"That's a...dilemma that university presidents, government-relations officers, and senior administrators face constantly. When do we decide to take a political stance? What might we gain? What might we be risking? There are some pre-election strategies that presidents and their administrators might consider before calling a press conference."
The Horror, The Horror of Midterm Elections (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
AROUND WASHINGTON: COLLEGE PRICES, STUDENT DATA
In a conversation with student journalists aimed at trumpeting his administration's higher education accomplishments and persuading young people (roughly a month ahead of midterm elections) that he's fighting for their interests, President Obama also signaled to college leaders that he is closely watching their soaring prices. The president spent most of his time on the conference call with editors at college student newspapers discussing financial aid increases and health care changes designed to help young Americans maneuver through increasingly difficult financial times, so that they don't become a "lost generation," as Colin Daileda, a Radford University senior, put it. - From InsideHigherEd
Remarks by the President in Conference Call with College and University Student-Journalists (whitehouse.gov)