DC Digest - April 15, 2011
In Today's Issue:
- Duke Alum Sworn-in as 37th Army Chief of Staff
- U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms (Law '75) to Speak at 2011 Hooding Ceremony
- President Obama Outlines Budget Framework For Deficit Reduction, Continued Investment
- House Approves FY12 Budget Resolution
- House Judiciary Committee Approves Patent Reform Bill
- ED Proposes Regs to Reduce FERPA Privacy Protections
- Concerns on Impact of Rules on Student Health Plans
- Legislation Would Ensure GI Bill Changes Don't Land Vets in Debt
DUKE ALUM SWORN-IN AS 37th ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey (G '84) was sworn in as the Army's 37th chief of staff April 11, surrounded by an enormous family, mentors, his classmates from the 1974 graduating class at West Point, the secretary of the Army and the secretary of Defense.
Dempsey's first assignment was in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he served as a scout and support platoon leader and squadron adjutant. Following other duties, he first earned a master's degree in English at Duke University and taught at West Point, and then he earned another master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at the National War College.
Dempsey served as the commander of the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad in 2003. He then helped train the Iraqi army and police as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq.
His last assignment was as commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, after stepping up as acting commander of U.S. Central Command.
37th Army Chief of Staff (army.mil)
U.S. SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS (Law '75) TO SPEAK AT 2011 HOODING CEREMONY
Martina Lewis Bradford (Law ’75), deputy sergeant at arms of the United States Senate, will address members of Duke Law School’s Class of 2011 at their hooding ceremony on May 14.
Bradford was appointed to her position by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. in December 2010. The Office of the Sergeant at Arms is the chief protocol office, chief law enforcement office, enforcer of the Senate Rules of Procedure, and overseer of all operational, technological, facility and security matters in the U.S. Capitol and all U.S. Senate offices.
U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms to Speak at 2011 Hooding Ceremony (Law.Duke.edu)
PRESIDENT OBAMA OUTLINES BUDGET FRAMEWORK FOR DEFICIT REDUCTION, CONTINUED INVESTMENT
President Obama on Wednesday laid out a general outline for addressing the nation’s budget deficits, with the goal of reducing deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years or less, while “supporting our economic recovery and ensuring we are making the investments we need to win the future.” During his speech to an audience at George Washington University, he said the federal government “would continue to invest” in medical research, clean energy technology, education, and infrastructure.
The President said that his strategy balances spending cuts with tax reform, includes reforms in health care and other mandatory spending, would cut non-security discretionary spending to “levels consistent with the Fiscal Commission” and seeks to hold down growth in “base” security spending. The plan includes a “debt failsafe” trigger that would force ATB cuts in direct spending and spending through the tax code in 2014 if “the projected ratio of debt to gross domestic product is not stabilized or declining toward the end of the decade.”
The President has asked each of the four House and Senate leaders to designate four members from their caucuses to “participate in bipartisan, bicameral negotiations led by the Vice President, beginning in early May, to “agree on a legislative framework for comprehensive debt reduction.”
The President's Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility (WhiteHouse.gov)
HOUSE APPROVES FY12 BUDGET RESOLUTION
The House today approved the FY12 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 34) developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). The vote was 235 to 193 on a near-party line vote, with no support from Democrats. Before approving the measure, the chamber defeated four other FY12 budget plans offered by House Democrats, liberals in the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and the Republican Study Committee.
Chairman Ryan’s budget plan would cut about $6 trillion over the next 10 years through a combination of discretionary spending cuts and significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid. The plan also calls for simplifying the tax system and reducing tax rates, but does not endorse higher tax revenues.
For non-security discretionary spending, Chairman Ryan’s plan would cut FY12 spending below FY08 levels, where it would be held for five years, with inflation increases thereafter. The proposal accepts the President’s FY12 plan for defense, cutting a net $78 billion in FY12 and then limiting growth to inflation. It would not cut spending in the Departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.
The plan singles out Pell Grants for cuts, with a call for reducing funding to “pre-stimulus levels.” It is not clear if this means reducing the maximum award to the FY08 level of $4,731 (the maximum award currently is $5,550) or bringing total spending in the program back to the FY08 level of $16.3 billion. By comparison, the Administration requested $41 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for Pell Grants in FY12 in order to maintain the maximum grant.
While it contains significant discretionary spending cuts overall, Rep. Ryan’s budget appears to be silent on NIH and other research funding, except for energy research, where it differentiates between basic and applied research. The document says, “This budget would continue funding essential government missions, including energy security and basic research and development, while paring back spending in areas of duplication or non-core functions, such as applied and commercial research or development projects best left to the private sector.”
The fate of the measure in the Senate is unclear. Keep in mind, however, that a budget resolution does not get signed into law by the president—it is simply a step Congress takes to establish the parameters for its work on the federal budget.
The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America's Promise (Budget.house.gov)
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVES PATENT REFORM BILL
The House Judiciary Committee passed the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249) on Thursday by a vote of 32-3, bringing us one step closer to the long-anticipated goal of reforming the nation's patent system.
H.R. 1249, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), would move the U.S. patent system from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file 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 so-called manager's amendment (a package of individual amendments agreed to by both sides in advance) addressed some of the concerns of the higher education community that Association of American Universities (AAU) Executive Vice President John Vaughn highlighted in his testimony at a hearing last month.
There are outstanding issues to be addressed, but overall, the bill that emerged is very strong, uniting in support for the first time major coalitions such as the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform and the Coalition for Patent Fairness.
The bill now moves to the full House for a vote. The Senate approved its patent reform bill (S. 23) in March.
AAU/ACE Letter to Rep. Smith in Support of H.R. 1249 (ACEnet.edu)
ED PROPOSES REGS TO REDUCE FERPA PRIVACY PROTECTIONS
The Department of Education recently published proposed regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), intended to facilitate sharing of individual students' data far more widely than current law allows. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities is concerned about erosion of student data protection, and the direct effects of the proposed regs on private colleges' rights to protect their students' privacy. Comments on the proposal will be accepted by the Department until May 23.
ED Proposes Regs to Reduce FERPA Privacy Protections (NAICU.edu)
CONCERNS ON IMPACT OF RULES ON STUDENT HEALTH PLANS
Higher education groups are expressing concerns over the impact on student health centers of parts of proposed regulations to carry out various parts of health care reform legislation passed last year. A letter submitted from the American Council on Education raised concerns about the definitions of student health plans and the impact on self-funded student plans, among other issues. Similar concerns are also being raised by the American College Health Association.
ACE Comments on Proposed Student Health Plan Rules (ACEnet.edu)
LEGISLATION WOULD ENSURE GI BILL CHANGES DON'T LAND VETS IN DEBT
Legislation introduced in Congress last week would ensure that students attending college under the new post-9/11 GI Bill will have their full tuition covered, even if the cost exceeds the $17,500 cap put in place under recent changes to the program. The measures are sponsored by House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. In statements released Thursday, both said they hope to act on the legislation before the new changes go into effect, potentially costing some student veterans thousands of dollars.
Legislation Would Ensure GI Bill Changes Don't Land Vets in Debt (Stars and Stripes)