DC Digest - September 2, 2011In Today's Issue:
- Education Department Posts Online Q&A on New Student-Aid Rules
- End-of-Recess Appropriations Update
- Duke IGSP Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy to Organize Congressional Briefing on Breast Cancer Gene Case
- Federal Higher Education Tax Breaks to Cost $95.3 Billion by 2014
- A Common-Sense Solution for Shoring up Pell Grants in 2012
- Ed Department Chases "Pell Runners" Who Threaten Aid Program
EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS POSTS ONLINE Q&A ON NEW STUDENT-AID RULES
The U.S. Department of Education has created a Web site to field questions about new regulations for the federal student-aid programs, including rules covering gainful employment, incentive compensation, and others.
Program Integrity Information Q&A (ed.gov)
END OF RECESS APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin moving its FY12 bills next week as soon as the Senate returns from the August recess on September 6. Two bills will be marked up that day in their respective subcommittees: Energy and Water and Homeland Security. CQ Today reports that the full committee is expected to meet shortly after the subcommittee markups to adopt the FY12 spending cap and allocate funding among the panel’s 12 subcommittees. Just one funding bill, Military Construction-Veterans, was approved by the Senate before the recess.
Senate Democratic leaders delayed approval of an FY12 budget resolution, which sets the discretionary spending ceiling for the fiscal year, because they could not gain majority support for any particular level of spending. The issue was resolved on August 2 with enactment of the Budget Control Act, which included a discretionary spending total of $1.043 trillion for FY12. That is $7 billion less than the FY11 level, but about $23 billion more than the level in the House-passed FY12 budget resolution.
Earlier this year, the House passed an FY12 budget resolution that cut $30 billion from discretionary spending in FY11, and then approved six of its 12 appropriations bills based on those numbers. The remaining bills include Commerce-Justice-Science, which funds the National Science Foundation and NASA, and Labor-HHS-Education, which funds the National Institutes of Health and student aid.
At this writing, House Republican leaders have not said how they will move forward on the remaining FY12 bills in light of the increased spending total, but they have expressed support for abiding by the higher overall number. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), said in a memorandum to his Republican colleagues on August 17, “While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level. I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year bills at this new lower level.” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) stated his commitment to maintaining “the responsible 2012 spending level agreed to by the House, Senate, and White House under the recent debt ceiling agreement.”
While the Senate appropriations process is finally moving forward, the new fiscal year is just one month away, so there seems little chance that the House and Senate can approve all of their bills and reconcile them with one another by October 1. The more likely scenario is congressional approval of one or more continuing resolutions to sustain funding into the new fiscal year, followed by some type of omnibus appropriations package.
DUKE IGSP CENTER FOR GENOME ETHICS, LAW & POLICY TO ORGANIZE CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON BREAST CANCER GENE CASE
On July 29, 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) handed down its long-awaited ruling about the patent lawsuit brought against Myriad Genetics and the US Patent and Trademark Office by a group of more than 20 plaintiffs, led by the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Patent Foundation.
This case has attracted worldwide attention, because it speaks to women’s access to information about their own susceptibility to breast cancer. This closely watched decision stirs up the long-standing debate about the patentability of genes.
On September 15, patent and genome experts from Duke University will participate in a briefing to educate policymakers, advocacy groups, and other interested parties about the Myriad case.
Among the topics to be discussed:
• The history of the Myriad case and explanation of the CFAC ruling.
• Implications of the CAFC decision for breast cancer and other genetic diseases: How will existing and future gene patents be affected?
• Why should Congress be engaged in this debate?
Speakers will include:
• Robert Cook-Deegan, Director of Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy’s Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy
• Arti Rai, Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law at Duke Law School and member, Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy
• Kevin Noonan, Partner, McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff and author on the Patent Docs blog
The Myriad Genetics/Breast Cancer Gene Case Congressional Briefing
Thursday, September 15; 9-10:30am
Reserve Officers Association: One Constitution Ave, NE, Washington, DC
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Kathy Orellana at: email@example.com or 301-652-1558.
FEDERAL HIGHER EDUCATION TAX BREAKS TO COST $95.3 BILLION BY 2014
Fourteen tax benefits meant to subsidize the cost of college books, tuition, and student loans will cost the federal government $95.3-billion by 2014, according to an estimate by the U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation.The 14 credits, exclusions, deductions, and incentives are not part of the federal student aid provided every year, says a report issued last week by the Congressional Research Service that used the committee’s estimate.
Federal Higher Education Tax Breaks to Cost $95.3 Billion by 2014 (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
A COMMON-SENSE SOLUTION FOR SHORING UP PELL GRANTS IN 2012
Higher Ed Watch's Stephen Burd writes: "The debt ceiling legislation that Congress approved this month provided a one-time infusion of $17 billion for the Pell Grant program, spread between fiscal years 2012 and 2013. But as we’ve previously reported, the program is not out of the woods yet. Congressional appropriators still need to find at least another $1.3 billion to maintain the current maximum grant of $5,550 in the 2012 fiscal year, which starts in October. Finding the money to cover this gap may not be as difficult as it seems."
A Common-Sense Solution For Shoring Up Pell Grants in 2012 (Higher Ed Watch)
ED DEPARTMENT CHASES "PELL RUNNERS" WHO THREATEN AID PROGRAM
Pell runners are scam artists who bounces from college to college, staying just long enough to receive a Pell Grant refund. Runners represent a small fraction of students who received Pell Grants last year, but their numbers appear to be growing, say financial-aid administrators and Educational Department officials. Their fraud costs taxpayers untold thousands and drives up colleges' default rates when the students take out loans as well.
Ed Department Chases "Pell Runners" Who Threaten Aid Program (Chronicle of Higher Ed)