President Signs CR to Keep Government Running Until Nov. 18
House Subcommittee Holds Foreign STEM Graduate Hearing
ACE, NACUBO Negotiate on College Radio Station Fees
CEF Honors Education Advocates
IN BRIEF: ACE Releases 2011 Minority Status Report Supplement; ACE and IIE Urge Members to Complete International Surveys; National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week Oct. 16-22
Ending the latest federal budget dust-up, President Obama this week signed a FY 2012 continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government running until Nov. 18, 2011.
The Senate passed the CR last week, but because the House was in recess, Congress agreed to a stopgap CR until Oct. 4 to allow the House time to consider the bill when it returned. The House voted 352-66 to pass the longer-term CR Tuesday, and the president signed it early Wednesday morning.
The CR funds government agencies between Oct. 1 and Nov. 18 at a rate of $1.043 trillion, the amount for FY 2012 set in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the debt ceiling deal struck in August). It also provides (without offsetting cuts elsewhere) $2.65 billion in FY 2012 for disaster relief.
Two things will happen now: First, the so-called Super Committee (the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction) will continue its efforts to find ways to reduce the federal budget deficit substantially. The committee has until Nov. 23 to craft a legislative proposal that achieves at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. The House and Senate must vote on the proposal by Dec. 23, with no amendments and no filibuster permitted. If the committee fails to produce such legislation, or Congress does not enact it, automatic procedures will be initiated to cut $1.2 trillion from federal spending. However, the pain will be postponed, as those cuts will not take effect until January 2013, three months into FY 2013 and two months after the 2012 election.
As the Super Committee focuses on its work, a second process will unfold as the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees push forward. Although the fiscal year started Oct. 1, Congress has not passed any of the 12 spending bills needed to keep the federal government operating. Instead, all federal agencies are currently funded by the CR I mentioned previously. Observers believe the most likely scenario will be that all 12 bills will be combined into a single measure known as an omnibus. If Congress does not complete work on such a bill by Nov. 18, another temporary spending bill will be required or the government will shut down.
We have now seen proposed House and Senate spending bills for the departments of Labor, Health, Human Services and Education. The big difference between the two is that the Senate committee is starting with $5 billion more to spend than its House counterpart. Both measures assume the maximum Pell Grant will remain at $5,550 for the 2012-13 academic year. However, to help finance this level of Pell, the House would make eligibility changes that would eliminate Pell Grants for roughly 600,000 students. In addition, the House bill would decimate funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and other Minority-Serving Institutions. On the plus side, the House provides more than $1 billion in new funding for the National Institutes of Health and blocks the Department of Education from implementing the gainful employment, credit hour and state authorization regulations.
Neither bill is expected to receive floor consideration in its respective chamber. Instead, these are just starting points for eventual negotiations between Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA) and House Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Denny Rehberg (R-MT).
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement held a hearing Wednesday to discuss policies to encourage qualified foreign students graduating with advanced degrees from American universities to stay in the country to work, thus helping the United States remain globally competitive.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told the panel that in 2009, half to two-thirds of all Ph.D.s in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and almost half of all engineering and computer science master's degrees awarded by American colleges were earned by foreign students. Only 140,000 U.S. employment visas currently can be awarded annually to non-citizens seeking careers in this country.
Hearing witnesses, including Darla Whitaker of Texas Instruments, Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University (NC), B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University (DC), and Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, offered ideas for keeping more foreign graduates in the United States ranging from attaching green cards to advanced STEM degrees to increasing the number of employment visas available and eliminating the annual visa cap.
Although any action on immigration reform seems remote in the current political climate, two bills have been introduced that would begin to move the process forward. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, is a co-sponsor of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 3012), which would eliminate the employment visa cap over a four-year period. Rep. Lofgren is sponsoring the Immigration Driving Entrepreneurship in America Act (H.R. 2161), which includes a range of visa changes, including making it easier for immigrants who create businesses and employ Americans to stay in the country.
ACE and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) are engaged in negotiations with the three performance rights organizations (PROs) concerning the rates to be paid by college and university radio stations for the period from Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2017.
The three PROs are American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP); Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI); and SESAC (formerly known as the Society of European Stage Authors & Composers). All broadcast radio stations, including college radio stations, are required to pay license fees to these groups for the right to broadcast copyrighted musical works. As a measure of protection for non-commercial broadcasters including college radio stations, Congress in 1976 established a "statutory license" and decreed that the rates under that license were to be set through administrative litigation before the Copyright Royalty Board. ACE typically has represented the interests of college and university radio stations in those rate-setting proceedings.
At each prior five-year interval, the PROs have agreed to rates that increase mainly based upon changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). However, they are now seeking unprecedented rate increases for the 2013-17 cycle, and in response, ACE and NACUBO have initiated negotiations. Through these talks, we have been able to substantially reduce the increased fees sought, but it has become clear that ASCAP/BMI will not settle for CPI-based increases for larger colleges and universities. We currently are weighing our options moving forward.
If you would like additional information on the status of negotiations and what they may mean for your radio station, please contact ACE General Counsel Ada Meloy at email@example.com.
The Committee for Education Funding (CEF), of which ACE is a founding member, brought together hundreds of people in Washington Wednesday night to honor and thank members of Congress and staff who championed the cause of a strong federal investment in both K-12 and higher education this year.
Among the honorees were Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), who received the Richard W. Riley Career Service Award, and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who both received William H. Natcher Distinguished Service Awards. Congratulations to the honorees and many thanks to those who work with CEF to advocate for increased funding that will benefit our nation's students.
ACE's Center for Policy Analysis released its Minorities in Higher Education—Twenty-Fourth Status Report: 2011 Supplement Wednesday. The report documents continuing racial and ethnic disparities and the increasing gap between men and women in student achievement in higher education. You can download a copy here.
I want to call your attention to two ongoing surveys that will inform the following studies: 1) ACE's Mapping Internationalization project and 2) the Institute for International Education's (IIE) Student Enrollment Snapshot. The two have different foci: IIE's work pertains to fall 2011 international student enrollment, while our survey is on the full array of on-campus internationalization and globalization efforts. Both will provide vital data to the field of international education, and I ask you or someone on your campus to complete the two (click the hyperlinks for more information).
Lastly this week, I would like to encourage all campuses to join in the commemoration of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW), Oct.16-22. NCAAW is promoted by the Coalition of Higher Education Associations for Substance Abuse Prevention. This alliance of 20 higher education associations, including ACE, is dedicated to advancing education, research, networking and national initiatives to help eliminate substance abuse on college and university campuses. NCAAW activities vary from campus to campus but typically include presentations and social events that promote responsibility and healthy, safe decisions around alcohol consumption. Additionally, I recommend The Century Council's website on college binge drinking as a great resource on this difficult issue.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE