DC Digest - December 3, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- New DREAM Act Bill Up for Possible Vote Next Week in Senate
- House Passes Tax Bill With Some Higher Ed Extenders; Negotiations Continue
- AAU Praises Deficit Commission Report
- Associations Urge Extension of Higher Education Tax Provisions
- Energy Secretary Calls Chinese Clean-Energy Advances a "Sputnik Moment" for U.S.
- Presidential Council Report Offers Roadmap for Federal Role in Transforming U.S. Energy System
- President Directs Bioethics Commission to Review Human Subjects Protection Rules
NEW DREAM ACT BILL UP FOR POSSIBLE VOTE NEXT WEEK IN SENATE
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Tuesday introduced a new version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as activists around the country this week demonstrated in support of the bill, which would provide a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children if they attend college or serve in the military for at least two years.
New DREAM Act Bill Up for Possible Vote Next Week (ACE.edu)
HOUSE PASSES TAX BILL WITH SOME HIGHER ED EXTENDERS; NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE
As bipartisan negotiations continue on the Bush-era tax cuts, the House yesterday approved by a mostly partisan 234-188 vote the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4853). In addition to permanently extending the current marginal individual income tax rates for families earning $250,000 or less and other Bush-era tax cut provisions, the $1.5 trillion measure would also extend Section 127 employer-provided education benefits, the 2001 improvements to the student loan interest deduction, and Coverdell educational savings accounts.
The measure does not include extension of the IRA charitable rollover or the above-the-line tuition deduction, which expired at the end of 2009. The measure also does not extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which expires at the end of this year.
Negotiations are expected to continue, and additional House and Senate action on the expiring tax cuts is anticipated next week. Many analysts believe that the raft of other expired and expiring tax extenders, including higher education-related provisions, will ultimately be included in a final deal on taxes.
AAU PRAISES DEFICIT COMMISSION REPORT
AAU on Wednesday released a statement praising the report issued by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which calls for a combination of spending cuts and revenue enhancements to reduce the federal deficit, while insuring the nation’s continued ability to make needed investments.
Said the statement, “The report, wisely, recognizes that strengthened investment in the nation’s future, in areas like research and education, must be integral to the nation’s long-term fiscal strategy, even as we take needed dramatic steps to reduce budget deficits and manage our nation’s debt.”
AAU President Robert Berdahl testified before the Commission on these issues on June 30.
ASSOCIATIONS URGE EXTENSION OF HIGHER EDUCATION TAX PROVISIONS
A group of 26 higher education associations, including AAU, wrote to leaders of the House and Senate tax committees on November 30 urging them to extend several expired or expiring higher education-related tax provisions before the end of the year.
The letter, spearheaded by the American Council on Education, expressed strong support for extension of six tax provisions, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, Section 127 Employer Provided Education Assistance, and the Individual Retirement Account Charitable Rollover (which expired in 2009).
Associations Urge Extension of Higher Education Tax Provisions (aau.edu)
ENERGY SECRETARY CALLS CHINESE CLEAN-ENERGY ADVANCES A "SPUTNIK MOMENT" FOR U.S.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said in a speech on November 29 that recent advances in clean energy technology by China and other nations present a “Sputnik moment,” for the U.S. The nation must respond, he said, by mobilizing its ingenuity, focus, and strength to create cost-effective, clean energy technologies that can power the country and its economy through the next century.
Secretary Chu cited a number of promising research efforts funded by the Department of Energy and several key technologies in which the U.S. must continue to innovate or fall behind economically. These include high voltage energy transmission, advanced coal technologies, high speed rail, nuclear power, and alternative energy vehicles.
Secretary Chu: China's Clean-Energy Successes Represent a "Sputnik Moment" for America (Engery.gov)
PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL REPORT OFFERS ROADMAP FOR FEDERAL ROLE IN TRANSFORMING U.S. ENERGY SYSTEM
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on November 29 that calls for developing a government-wide energy policy to help transform the nation’s energy system over the coming decades.
The report, “Accelerating the Pace of Change in Energy Technologies Through an Integrated Federal Energy Policy,” also recommends increased federal support for energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment, including establishment of a new training program and a program for multidisciplinary social science research.
Presidential Report Provides Roadmap for Federal Role in U.S. Energy System (WhiteHouse.gov)
PRESIDENT DIRECTS BIOETHICS COMMISSION TO REVIEW HUMAN SUBJECTS PROTECTION RULES
President Obama on November 24 sent a memorandum to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues requesting the commission to conduct a “thorough review of human subjects protection to determine if Federal regulations and international standards adequately guard the health and well-being of participants in scientific studies supported by the Federal Government.”
The request came in response to the discovery that the U.S. Public Health Service in 1946 to 1948 intentionally infected “vulnerable human populations” during a study of sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala. Given that the research “was clearly unethical,” said the memorandum, “I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally.”
The President asked the commission, which is chaired by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, to convene a panel in January and issue its findings and recommendations within nine months.
Presidential Memorandum - Review of Human Subjects Protection (WhiteHouse.gov)