DC Digest - October 21, 2011
In Today's Issue:
- Sixty House Democrats Urge Deficit Supercommittee to Protect Research and Education Investments
- AAU FY12 Briefing Paper Explains Value of DOE Graduate Fellowship Program
- Senate Finance Holds Hearing on Charitable Incentives
- Coalition Asks Appropriators to Sustain International Education Programs
- Higher Ed Associations Launch Commission on Higher Education Attainment
- NIH Solicits Advice on How to Cut Spending
- Senators Seek More Scrutiny of Law School Data
- Senate to Resume Work on FY12 'Minibus' October 31
- AAU Weighs in on Final FY12 Funding for Five Agencies
- Reframing the STEM Shortage Debate
- US-India Higher Education Summit Reveals Gaps
SIXTY HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE DEFICIT SUPERCOMMITTEE TO PROTECT RESEARCH AND EDUCATION INVESTMENTS
A group of 60 House Democrats sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on October 14 urging the panel to “protect, prioritize and strengthen federal investments in education, basic scientific research, and technological development…” as it develops its deficit-reduction plan.
The letter, led by Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), said:
“Our investments in education, research, and development—including funding for basic science and biomedical research at universities and federal labs and wise incentives for private sector research—have put our economy on the cutting edge of the world’s most advanced industries. These investments are a powerful way to spur job growth and are a must for a country that seeks to be competitive in the 21st Century economy.”
Price, Holt Lead Effort Urging Supercommittee to Protect Job-Creating Investments in Education and Research (price.house.gov)
Signed Letter to Supercommittee (pdf)
AAU FY12 BRIEFING PAPER EXPLAINS VALUE OF DOE GRADUATE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
AAU has released a briefing paper that describes the DOE Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program, including its value to the Department’s future scientific workforce and the importance of funding the program at $7.5 million in FY12. This increase of $2.5 million over the FY11 level is needed both to sustain current awards and to conduct a competition for a new class of fellows. The Senate bill would provide the additional funding; the House bill would not. Without the increased funding, the Office of Science would be unable to fund a new class of fellows, placing the future of the program in jeopardy.
The briefing paper is intended to provide information to Members of Congress and their staff as decisions are made about final FY12 DOE program funding.
Briefing Paper: Value of DOE Graduate Fellowship Program (pdf)
SENATE FINANCE HOLDS HEARING ON CHARITABLE INCENTIVES
Nonprofit leaders railed against proposals to rein in the tax break for charitable giving on Thursday — and seemed to have support from key Republican senators.
At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 18 on “Tax Reform Options: Incentives for Charitable Giving,” Ranking Republican Orrin Hatch (R-UT), other senators, and witnesses warned that proposals to cap the charitable deduction or convert the deduction to a credit would have negative effects on charitable giving.
Sen. Hatch, who largely chaired the hearing as Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) attended another meeting, said he is concerned that the charitable deduction is under “quiet assault.” While charitable organizations play an increasingly important role in the current economy, that role could be undermined by the Obama administration’s proposal to limit to 28% the benefit of itemized deductions and exclusions, and proposals to convert the deduction to a credit, he said. “This is not the area for experimentation by the Federal government,” Sen. Hatch said.
The Office of Federal Relations is monitoring this issue and will continue to provide updates as they become available.
Nonprofit Leaders: Don't Roll Back Tax Incentives for Charitable Giving (TheHill)
Senators Debate Future of Charitable Tax Breaks (Chronicle of HigherEd)
Baucus Seeks Boost for Charitable Giving (finance.senate.gov)
COALITION ASKS APPROPRIATORS TO SUSTAIN INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS
The Coalition for International Education, a group in which Duke participates, wrote to House and Senate appropriators on October 18 asking them to fund the Department of Education’s Title VI international education programs at the Senate’s higher spending level in a final FY12 spending bill.
The Senate bill would allocate $75.7 million for the programs, the same as the FY11 level. The House bill would level fund Title VI domestic programs but eliminate funding for the Fulbright-Hays overseas programs and Title VI-C, the Institute for Public Policy program.
Coalition Urges Appropriators to Sustain International Education Programs (pdf)
HIGHER ED ASSOCIATIONS LAUNCH COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION ATTAINMENT
Six presidential higher education associations this week announced the creation and first convening of a national Commission on Higher Education Attainment.
The commission members were nominated by each of the presidential associations. E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, will serve as chair. There are also three vice-chairs: Andrew K. Benton, president of Pepperdine University (CA); Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College (NY); and George A. Pruitt, president of Thomas Edison State College (NJ). The commission's goal is to chart a course for greatly improving college retention and attainment and, in turn, restore the nation's higher education preeminence.
"President Obama's call for the United States to have the highest level of postsecondary educational attainment in the world by 2020 highlights the importance of higher education to our nation's future," said American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad. "We believe achieving this important objective will not be possible without clear and decisive leadership by colleges and universities, which is why we are launching this effort."
Higher Education Associations to Convene Commission on Attainment (acenet.edu)
Commission on Higher Education Attainment Membership (Acenet.edu)
NIH SOLICITS ADVICE ON HOW TO CUT SPENDING
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun reaching out to the biomedical research community for advice on how it should manage its research portfolio during an era of reduced budgets. Every type of cost-savings seems to be on the table, from limiting numbers of grants per investigator to capping salaries charged to grants.
NIH has developed a web-based tool to help users visualize cost savings from various budget-cutting strategies. Additional information about the request is provided below by Sally Rockey, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research.
How Do You Think We Should Manage Science in Fiscally Challenging Times? (nih.gov)
Ways of Managing NIH Resources (nih.gov)
SENATORS SEEK MORE SCRUTINY OF LAW SCHOOL DATA
Two U.S. senators -- Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, and Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat -- have asked the U.S. Department of Education to gather information about the accuracy of key law school data, such as figures on job placement, student loans and other topics. The letter from the senators comes amid lawsuits and considerable public debate over whether some law schools are being less than honest about the odds of students landing good jobs. A statement from Senator Boxer notes that the request to the Education Department follows "repeated calls" from her "to the American Bar Association to provide stronger oversight of reporting by law schools and better access to information for students."
Coburn, Boxer Call for Department of Education to Examine Questions of Law School Transparency (boxer.senate.gov)
SENATE TO RESUME WORK ON FY12 MINIBUS ON OCTOBER 31
The Senate worked late into the night last week on amendments to the three-bill minibus (H.R. 2112), but did not finish work before adjourning for recess. However, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was able to secure a cloture motion on the bill, Politico reports, so he will be able to control debate more tightly when the Senate resumes work on H.R. 2112 the week of October 31.
Congressional leaders hope that approval of such smaller packages of FY12 appropriations bills will allow Congress to avoid using an omnibus FY12 appropriations package to enact all 12 funding bills.
The three bills in the appropriations package are Agriculture (H.R. 2112), Transportation-Housing (S. 1596), and Commerce-Justice-Science (S. 1572), the last of which includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA.
AAU WEIGHS IN ON FINAL FY12 FUNDING FOR FIVE AGENCIES
AAU, of which Duke is a member, sent letters on Wednesday to House and Senate appropriators requesting specific FY12 funding levels for research and education programs in the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as higher education and student aid programs in the Department of Education (DOEd).
The letters for Defense, Energy, NIH, and student aid were sent jointly with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
AAU-APLU Send Letter on FY12 Defense Appropriations (pdf)
AAU-APLU Weigh in on FY12 Energy Research Funding (pdf)
AAU Urges Appropriators to Level Fund NEH in FY12 (pdf)
AAU Urges Funding Priority for Student Aid, Biomedical Research (pdf)
US-INDIA HIGHER EDUCATION SUMMIT REVEALS GAPS
The first India-US higher education summit, between India's Human Resources Minister Kapil Sibal and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, was aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two countries. It provided symbolic recognition of the importance of India's university and research sectors for international interaction. But in India, academics and students expressed skepticism that it would yield any real change in education outcomes, with a wide gap between India's needs and what US institutions might provide.
INDIA: Higher Education Summit with US Reveals Gaps (University World News)
REFRAMING THE 'STEM SHORTAGE' DEBATE
For several years now, science advocates and economists have been locked in a debate over whether the United States is producing too few scientists and engineers to sustain the country's historical technological edge and satisfy the demands of employers. With a new report today, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce hopes to bridge the divide -- by arguing, essentially, that the country needs more people with scientific competencies than it does actual scientists per se.
Reframing 'STEM Shortage' Debate (insidehighered)
Georgetown Report (cew.georgetown.edu)