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What Did I Miss in Washington? September 6-September 18, 2017

September 18, 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.

Advocacy

Higher Education Associations Call for Legislative Action on Dreamers. NACUBO endorsed an effort led by the American Council on Education (ACE), and joined by 80 other higher education associations, in sending a letter to every member of Congress, urging them to quickly pass bipartisan legislation to protect individuals enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. The letter comes in light of the Trump administration’s recent decision to end the program, which has left many DACA students unsure about their long-term ability to remain in the United States. ACE also recently published an issue brief and talking points summarizing recent developments.

Following the Trump administration’s decision, multiple lawsuits have emerged; different entities have joined together bringing suit against the federal government. One such faction is comprised of the attorneys general of 15 different states and the District of Columbia, while the attorneys general of four more states have filed suit separately. The University of California system, led by President Janet Napolitano, has also filed suit against the government. While each of the cases differ slightly, they all generally argue that the administration’s decision was a violation of both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fifth Amendment.

On Capitol Hill

Congress Rejects Proposed F&A Cuts. Appropriations committees in both the House and the Senate thoroughly rejected the Trump administration’s proposed 10 percent cap on reimbursements of facilities and administrative (F&A) costs on National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. Identical language in both bills explicitly prohibits any changes to the current formula used to calculate indirect costs; Congress also included the language in the recently passed stopgap spending bill that will fund the government through December 8.

Both chambers also rejected the administration’s proposal to cut the overall NIH budget; the Senate appropriated an additional $2 billion in funding for the agency, while the House allowed for a $1.1 billion increase. The final appropriation level for FY18, however, is yet to be determined as the government is temporarily operating, until December 8, on a budget that simply extends FY17 funding.

Student Loan Assistance Act Introduced. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) have introduced H.R. 795, the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act. The bipartisan legislation would expand Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code to include student loan repayment as tax-free educational assistance. Employees would be able to exclude from tax up to $5,250 per year in student loan repayment assistance provided by the employer. NACUBO joined more than 100 other organizations in sending a letter of support for the bill to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Neal.

Previous Edition
What Did I Miss in Washington? July 21-August 14, 2017