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What Did I Miss in Washington? May 15-May 31, 2017

May 31, 2017

The steady stream of news emerging from the nation’s capital can be overwhelming. NACUBO highlights key actions and provides the status of top higher education business officer concerns.

On Capitol Hill

Congressional Democrats Unveil Plan to Improve Higher Ed Access, Affordability, and Completion. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by House Education Committee Ranking Member Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), recently released Aim Higher, a new proposal to address access, affordability, and completion in higher education. Democrats say the plan will be supported by the introduction of a series of bills to be rolled out in the coming months. Their goals focus on strengthening Pell Grants, implementing support programs for non-traditional students, and building on programs that increase access, such as dual enrollment and competency-based education. The Aim Higher plan is expected to guide the priorities of Congressional Democrats when Congress takes up reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

NACUBO Weighs In on Legislation Providing Veterans Priority Enrollment. NACUBO and eight other higher education associations recently commented on the Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act of 2017 (S. 764). In their letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the associations supported the general intent of the legislation—to encourage more schools to offer priority enrollment opportunities to student veterans—but advised lawmakers to be mindful of the many other student populations that benefit from priority enrollment. The associations urged Congress to consider tweaking the legislation to allow institutions to maintain flexibility to meet the needs of their entire student population while still keeping the general intent of the legislation as a whole.

CBO Releases Estimates American Health Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate of the American Health Care Act of 2017, as passed by the House on May 4. According to the report, "enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law."

Administrative Action

White House Releases FY18 Budget Proposal. President Donald Trump put forth his budget proposal to Congress on May 25, which calls for significant cuts to research and some education programs’ funding.

OMB Again Extends UG Procurement Deadline. Institutions that receive federal funding will have until their respective fiscal years beginning on or after December 26, 2017, to comply with the new procurement standards set forth in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Uniform Guidance (UG) issued in 2013. This is the third time OMB has extended the deadline. Institutions that choose to continue following the previous rules should document that decision in their internal policies.

NACUBO Joins Effort to Prevent Changes to Net Neutrality. Following a speech given by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai in late April proposing a substantial shift in policy, the FCC moved forward on a 2-1 vote to approve a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would effectively eliminate the net neutrality created under the Obama administration. Under the Obama-era changes, the internet was classified as a Title II telecommunications service as opposed to its previous classification as a Title I information service. This reclassification led to regulations that prevented internet service providers from favoring or speeding up internet traffic from one organization over that of another’s, a position generally referred to as "net neutrality." Pai’s proposal calls for the internet to be reclassified as a Title I service, which would end net neutrality. NACUBO signed on to a statement with 11 other higher education associations emphasizing the importance of net neutrality to colleges and universities as a critical tool in meeting their missions of public service.

6 Higher Education Associations Comment on Proposed Immigrant Vetting Measures. In response to a proposal from the Department of State requesting an Emergency Review of “Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants” by OMB, six higher education presidential associations weighed in with their thoughts. While the associations highlighted their support for national security efforts, they reminded both OMB and the department of the large intellectual and economic impact of the “roughly one million international students [attending] U.S. colleges and universities.” They further described the Department of State’s proposed collection efforts as “vague and ill-defined” and “likely to deter international students, scholars, scientists, and researchers from contributing their talents to the United States.”

Judicial Action

Appeals Court Upholds Travel Ban Injunction. The Trump administration’s latest attempt to ban certain travelers from entering the U.S. has been further delayed as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled to uphold the injunction issued against the ban shortly after it was released. The ban, delivered as an executive order from the president, would bar individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and would ban refugees from all countries from coming to the U.S. for 120 days. A legal challenge to the ban is also taking place in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and legal experts expect that one or both of these cases will eventually come before the U.S. Supreme Court.


NACUBO Endorses Comments on EPA Hazardous Waste Rules. Following Trump’s executive order calling for a reduction of regulatory burden at federal agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened a public comment period for individuals to weigh in with thoughts on regulations that might be overly burdensome. NACUBO recently joined the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) in submitting a series of comments highlighting burdensome changes in hazardous waste determination rules and unduly burdensome Tier II reporting requirements, as well as encouraging an expanded definition of the “academic labs” rule, among other suggestions.

SEC Rulemaking Process on Broker, Dealer Reporting Underway. In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published in the Federal Register for comment proposed amendments to the Securities Exchange Act. The SEC proposes to amend the list of event notices required that would likely require issuers of publicly offered municipal bonds to provide detailed ongoing disclosure of any new debt, derivatives, and other “financial obligations.” The National Association of Health and Education Facilities Finance Authorities (NAHEFFA) recently submitted comments to the SEC. NAHEFFA, whose member authorities issue tax-exempt bonds for nonprofit health, education, and other charitable purposes, stated, "We respectfully urge that the proposed rule be withdrawn and substantially revamped to focus it on true problem areas, clarify with specificity the obligations of market participants and base it on credible regulatory burden analysis."

Tax Proposals Would Curb Charitable Giving. A recent study conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy for Independent Sector shows that current tax reform proposals would significantly decrease charitable giving, and expanding the charitable deduction would increase charitable giving. Current tax reform proposals, which include an increase in the standard deduction and a decrease in the top marginal tax rate, would decrease charitable giving by as much as $13.1 billion (4.6 percent). Expanding the charitable deduction to non-itemizers erases that $13.1 billion deficit caused by other tax proposals and produces a net gain in total giving of up to $4.8 billion. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) released a statement last week, noting "CASE supports a universal charitable deduction, which would provide a charitable giving incentive to everyone by allowing taxpayers to subtract charitable gifts from their income before they determine whether to take the standard deduction or itemize their tax returns."

Awaiting Action

Overtime Rule. There are no significant developments to report on the status of the Department of Labor overtime rule.

1098-T Reporting. The Internal Revenue Service has not yet issued final regulations on 1098-T reporting following its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that calls for significant reporting changes to the form.


Liz Clark
Senior Director, Federal Affairs