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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

Budget Conference Committee Continues Work

November 4-8, 2013 ~ Vol. 14, No. 36

  • Budget Conference Committee Continues Work
  • Senate Commerce Committee Hears Support for COMPETES Act Reauthorization
  • Higher Education, Veterans Groups Back Veterans Counseling Legislation
  • IN BRIEF: Higher Ed Groups to Discuss Community Colleges and Competency-Based Education; Register Now for ACE’s Annual Meeting ​

The focus in Washington this week was on the continued work of the House-Senate Budget Co​nference Committee. There has been little public progress on reaching a resolution, and that seems unlikely to change in the short-term. 

The conference committee is responsible for returning a spending plan to both chambers by Dec. 13, an outcome of the budget deal reached in October to reopen the federal government. The committee is not set to meet again until Nov. 13, though informal discussions have been ongoing. Members of the committee have also been seeking to rally support for their respective positions in order to increase their leverage in the final negotiations. As always, we will keep you informed as to any developments.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing Wednesday to discuss reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act, which funds government research and development initiatives critical to the country’s global competitiveness. 

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College (CA), described some of the challenges in STEM education and the steps her institution is taking to address them, as well as the role government and private funding play in supporting these initiatives. Also appearing were Kelvin K. Droegemeier, vice chairman of the National Science Board and vice president at the University of Oklahoma; Saul Perlmutter, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley; and Stephen S. Tang, president and CEO of the University City Science Center. 

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a major force behind passage of the original COMPETES Act in 2007, urged his colleagues to finish the job they began six years ago by authorizing a doubling of the budgets for the four research agencies included in the legislation (the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology). 

To view a webcast of the hearing and read the witness testimony, see the committee’s website.

ACE and a group of associations organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars sent a letter this week to Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) in support of the Veterans Education Counseling Act of 2013 (H.R. 3399), which is designed to improve education counseling services at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rep. Chu introduced the bill Oct. 30 on the House floor. 

As the letter points out, current access to education counseling at VA is cumbersome and not always available when veterans want to begin their education. Moreover, most veterans are unaware such free services even exist. The proposed legislation would ensure veterans are properly informed of and given timely access to such counseling, better equipping them to fully use their education benefits.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) was scheduled to unveil the companion bill in the Senate this week. 


Registration is now open for a free discussion to be held in Washington, DC, on how competency-based education is transforming student learning at a growing number of community colleges. This event, slated for Nov. 18 from 9-11:30 a.m. ET, will feature college presidents working on the cutting edge of competency-based innovation and key leaders from the accreditation and policy communities. The forum is sponsored by ACE, the American Association of Community Colleges, New America Foundation and Western Governors University.

Please take a moment to view this special video message about ACE’s 96th Annual Meeting, scheduled for March 8-11, 2014, in San Diego. As I note in the video, the meeting will provide you with a setting where you can learn how your fellow leaders are seizing the opportunities presented by these turbulent times in higher education. I look forward to seeing you all in San Diego.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE​​​