DC Digest - December 10, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- Professor Cathy Davidson Nominated to National Council on the Humanities
- Budget Update: House Approves FY11 Continuing Resolution
- Budget Update II: House CR Would Freeze Most FY11 Domestic Discretionary Spending, Cover Pell Shortfall
- President Brodhead Voices Support for DREAM Act
- House Passes DREAM Act, Senate Tables Vote on Filibuster Threat
- ACE Sends Letter of Support for Measure to Improve Post-9/11 GI Bill
- Senate Democrats Turn Gaze to Military Aid to For-Profits
- Washington Wrapup: Summary of the Status of Higher Ed Issues in Congress
- Citing New 'Sputnik Moment,' Obama Heralds Education
- New Leadership of House Education and Labor Committee Chosen
PROFESSOR CATHY DAVIDSON NOMINATED TO NATIONAL COUNCIL ON THE HUMANITIES
Duke professor Cathy N. Davidson has been nominated to the National Council on the Humanities. The council is a board of 26 private citizens who advise the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Davidson is the Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke. She was also Duke's first vice provost for interdisciplinary studies.
Professor Davidson Nominated to National Council on Humanities (DukeNews)
BUDGET UPDATE: HOUSE APPROVES FY11 CONTINUING RESOLUTION
The House approved a continuing resolution (CR) late Wednesday that funds the federal government through the rest of fiscal year 2011, holding appropriations for most non-security programs at their FY10 levels. The legislation (H.R. 3082) now moves to the Senate, where Democrats are expected to try to replace the CR with an FY11 omnibus appropriations package—consisting of all 12 FY11 appropriations bills—that Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) has been preparing.
Although few details about the omnibus package have been made public, the measure would provide about $18 billion more in discretionary spending than the CR—including a reported additional $750 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—and would include congressional earmarks.
Further complicating the process in the Senate, CQToday reports that Republicans are expressing opposition to the year-long House-passed CR, in favor of a shorter term bill that lasts into February or March. This would enable Congress to make “long-term spending decisions early next year, when Republicans will take control of the House and have more seats in the Senate.
BUDGET UPDATE II: HOUSE CR WOULD FREEZE MOST FY11 DOMESTIC DISCRETIONARY SPENDING, COVER PELL GRANT SHORTFALL
The House-passed CR provides nearly $46 billion less than the Obama Administration's FY11 budget request. The funding package would level fund most research agencies and programs, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, NASA Science, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as most higher education programs.
The measure would provide the $5.7 billion needed to cover the current Pell Grant shortfall and ensure that the maximum award for academic year 2011-2012 remains at the current level of $5,550 through a combination of discretionary and mandatory spending.
The measure also would adjust spending for the office of Federal Student Aid to “maintain services to students and families in implementing the transition to 100% direct student lending mandated by law.”
PRESIDENT BRODHEAD VOICES SUPPORT FOR DREAM ACT
With the U.S. Senate expected to vote on a pro-immigration measure this week, President Richard Brodhead has expressed his support for the bill.
Brodhead wrote a letter to N.C. Sen. Kay Hagan on December 7 to ask that she support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. If passed, the bill would grant legal residential status to undocumented students who have met certain requirements, such as spending at least five years in the country before the legislation is passed.
In his letter to Hagan, Brodhead noted that the DREAM Act would benefit Duke students who might be unable to find employment because of their documentation status.
The House passed the DREAM Act on Wednesday of this week, but the Senate voted Thursday morning to delay the vote until next week.
Brodhead Voices Support for DREAM Act (Chronicle.duke.edu)
HOUSE PASSES DREAM ACT, SENATE TABLES VOTE ON FILIBUSTER THREAT
The Senate today voted to table its modified version of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act by a vote of 59-40 to avoid the threat of a filibuster. Various reports indicate it will take up the House version of the measure, which passed last night by a vote of 216-198, next week.
A roundup of recent media coverage on the DREAM Act is included in the link below.
House Passes DREAM Act, Senate Tables Vote on Filibuster Threat (ACE.edu)
ACE SENDS LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR MEASURE TO IMPROVE POST-9/11 GI BILL
The American Council on Education sent a letter December 7 to the House Veterans Affairs Committee in support of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvement Act of 2010 (H.R. 6430). H.R. 6430, introduced on Nov. 18 by Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID), represents the latest version of legislation designed to make important improvements to the original Post-9/11 GI Bill.
H.R. 6430 would greatly simplify the calculation and delivery of educational benefits for veterans by eliminating the confusing state tuition and fee caps, clarifying that the benefits cover the tuition and fees of attending a public institution and setting a national baseline for private institutions. The bill also includes a hold-harmless provision to protect students who might otherwise be impacted by the establishment of a national baseline.
While the bill is not expected to move before the end of the year, there likely will be strong bipartisan support for enacting such a measure in the near future.
ACE Sends Letter of Support for Measure to Improve Post-9/11 GI Bill (ACE.edu)
SENATE DEMOCRATS TURN GAZE TO MILITARY AID TO FOR-PROFITS
Sen. Tom Harkin has identified the next target in his campaign to draw attention to perceived abuses in for-profit higher education: the institutions' large and growing share of financial aid for military service members and veterans.
An article published Wednesday night in The New York Times cites data showing that for-profit colleges are receiving a disproportionate share of money from the Post-9/11 GI Bill and quotes several former officials at career colleges describing the aggressive tactics they used to enroll veterans -- even those they were not confident could succeed academically. The article quotes Harkin saying that the institutions see veterans as a "cash cow" and that “[i]t is both a rip off of the taxpayer and a slap in the face to the people who have risked their lives for our country."
Senator Harkin released a report on Thursday outlining how
for-profit college companies are taking in enormous amounts of federal
student aid money by recruiting and enrolling members of the military,
veterans and their families, with questionable returns.
Profits and Scrutiny for Colleges Courting Veterans (New York Times)
Report: For-Profit Colleges Cashing in on Military (CBS News.com)
WASHINGTON WRAPUP: SUMMARY OF THE STATUS OF HIGHER ED ISSUES IN CONGRESS
The final days of a Congressional session are our democratic government at its worst, with lawmakers' frenzied rush to finish their work and head home exacerbating what often seems an inglorious emphasis on surface over substance.
In that climate, lawmakers in both houses are dealing with several issues important to higher education. Some are specifically relevant to higher education, and others are broadly applicable but have potentially huge implications for colleges and their students.
The status of tax breaks, the DREAM Act, the 2011 Budget, and Rep. Tim Bishop are all included in the below "Washington Wrapup."
Washington Wrapup: Budget and Bishop (InsideHigherEd)
Colleges and Students Would Benefit from White House Tax Compromise (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
CITING NEW 'SPUTNIK MOMENT,' OBAMA HERALDS EDUCATION
The United States is once again facing a "Sputnik moment," President Obama said in a speech at a North Carolina community college Monday, comparing the country's current economic situation to the time a half century ago when concerns about Russia's launch of a satellite led American politicians to make education and research a priority in funding and other decisions. Amplifying a theme that the president touched on 18 months ago to argue for increased science spending, and that Sen. John Kerry floated on the news talk shows Sunday, Obama told an audience at Winston-Salem's Forsyth Technical Community College that, despite a need for fiscal prudence and deficit cutting, the United States cannot afford to "stop making [the] investments" in research, education and innovation that helped the country become a technological leader in the half-century that followed the post-Sputnik awakening.
Citing New 'Sputnik Moment,' Obama Heralds Education (InsideHigherEd)
NEW LEADERSHIP OF HOUSE EDUCATION AND LABOR COMMITTEE CHOSEN
On Wednesday, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) was chosen by House Republicans as the new chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
"I am eager to move forward with an agenda that fulfills our pledge to create a smaller, more accountable federal government. My goal for the federal programs and agencies that oversee our schools and workplaces is to provide certainty and simplicity. We must ensure federal red tape does not become the enemy of innovation, and that federal mandates do not become roadblocks on the path to reform," Kline said.
Kline's priorities for the committee in the 112th Congress include:
* Increasing oversight of education and workforce programs
* Reforming America's education system to protect taxpayers, restore local control and empower parents
* Helping employers create new jobs
* Improving training programs to get out-of-work Americans working again
Kline Chosen to Lead House Education and Labor Committee (NASFAA.org)