DC Digest - February 11, 2011
In Today's Issue:
- House Republicans Continue to Shape Budget
- HHS Releases Proposed Regulations for Student Health Plans
- NEH Chairman Leach: "A Looming Crisis in the Humanities"
- Rep. Mike Honda: The Economic Case Behind Immigration Reform
- Opinion: Don't Cut Humanities
- Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Patent Reform Bill
HOUSE REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO SHAPE BUDGET
Wrangling over the FY 2011 budget continues to dominate the discussion in Washington. House Republicans announced early in the week that they had finalized cuts to the budget bill under consideration, but they quickly dialed back on Thursday and decided to slash further under pressure from conservative members of their caucus.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) was expected to release a bill Wednesday cutting $32 billion from current spending levels and $74 billion from the president's FY 2011 budget request. However, that plan was pulled back to give committee members time to make even deeper cuts to non-security discretionary spending. The new bill, which is to be released today, reportedly will contain $100 billion in cuts from the president's budget and is still set to hit the House floor next week. The higher education community is concerned about the possibility of cuts to Pell Grants and campus-based aid programs, which are often mentioned as possible targets. -from ACE
House Republicans Propose Science Cuts but Offer Researchers Grounds for Hope (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
HHS RELEASES PROPOSED REGULATIONS FOR STUDENT HEALTH PLANS
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday released the text of proposed regulations that would ensure college and university health plans offer students the consumer protections created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform legislation signed into law last year.
The new rules are in part a response to a request from the American Council on Education (ACE), the American College Health Association and several other organizations for guidance to help colleges and universities navigate the changing landscape for health care and health insurance since the enactment of the ACA. - from ACE
New Rule Ensures Students Get Health Insurance Protections of the Affordable Health Care Act (HHS.gov)
Improving Health Insurance Protections for Students - Fact Sheet (healthcare.gov)
NEH CHAIRMAN LEACH: "A LOOMING CRISIS IN THE HUMANITIES"
Jim Leach, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, addressed the College Art Association on its centennial convocation on Wednesday. Acknowledging recent proposals to eliminate the NEH, Chairman Leach said:
"The NIH accepts the call for restraint and recognizes the case for trimming federal spending. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned with the entreaties of some that there be a total elimination of cultural institutions like NEA and NEH. Constraining funding may be unavoidable, but abolishing institutions central to advancing human understanding and creativity is counter to the national interest.
As the NEH’s founding legislation makes clear, “The world leadership which has come to the United States cannot rest solely upon superior power, wealth, and technology, but must be solidly founded upon worldwide respect and admiration for the Nation’s high qualities as a leader in the realm of ideas and of the spirit.”
A Looming Crisis in the Humanities (pdf)
REP. MIKE HONDA: THE ECONOMIC CASE BEHIND IMMIGRATION REFORM
In an op-ed appearing in the Huffington Post on Monday, Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) makes the case that immigration reform makes great fiscal sense. Among the many ways immigration reform could contribute to the U.S. economy, Rep. Honda points to the higher education aspirations of immigrants as key to restoring U.S. economic strength.
Cents and Sensibility: The Economic Case Behind Immigration Reform (Huffington Post)
OPINION: DON'T CUT HUMANITIES
In a guest post appearing in the Washington Post on Thursday, David J. Skorton, President of Cornell University, argues against proposed cuts to the National Endowment for the Humanities:
"Last month, the Republican Study Committee released its hard-hitting recommendations for reductions in the federal budget. Regardless of our individual politics, and whether we agree with any of the targets for budget reduction, expenditures must go down and a sustainable federal budget must be achieved. This cannot happen without pain and prioritization, and the RSC listing is one approach. But while we debate the RSC proposal and others now on the table, let's prevent a train wreck in the making: the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities."
Don't Cut Humanities (The Washington Post)
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVES PATENT REFORM BILL
The Patent Reform Act of 2011 (S. 23) moved forward last week as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15-0 on Feb. 3 to approve the bipartisan measure authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA).
The bill would revise the process for granting patents, reviewing the validity of patents after they are issued and handling patent infringement lawsuits. Most significantly, it would move the U.S. patent system from a first-to-file to a first-to-invent system, which most other countries currently use. It also would authorize the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is dealing with an overwhelming backlog of patent applications, to set its own fees.
The bill now goes to the full Senate—the third such measure to do so since 2008—but it is unclear at this point when exactly it will be considered.
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Patent Bill (ACEnet.edu)