Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Federal Update for June 28

Late last week and earlier this week, there had been reports that Members in each chamber of Congress had independently agreed to attach a freeze to the scheduled increase in the interest rate on subsidized federal student loans to the surface transportation reauthorization bill.  It now appears that negotiators from both chambers have agreed to the move.  Provisions related to student loans are included in the conference report for H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act.  Both houses could take up and pass the measure as early as tomorrow.   A copy of the text of the bill scheduled for floor action is available here.
Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), the Ranking Member on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Mike Enzi (R-WY), the Ranking Member on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a joint letter today to the secretaries of the Departments of Education, Defense, and Veterans Affairs that outlines a number of concerns related to Executive Order 13607 and the "Principles of Excellence" related to education benefits provided to service members and veterans.
The letter specifically addresses the request sent by the VA seeking assurances and commitments from institutions by June 30 that they intend to comply with the "principles."  Although the higher education community fully supports the goal and intent of the principles, a number of questions have surfaced regarding many of the individual provisions in the document.
  • Either delay or repeal the June 30 deadline;
  • Respond to the questions raised by the broader higher education community, as outlined in a joint letter sent to the agencies on June 22;
  • Spell out future actions that the agencies are considering with respect to the implementation of the executive order and the principles.
Given the approaching deadline, the Senators have requested an expedited response to their letter.  View the letter.
The Partnership for a New American Economy, a group spearheaded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, released a report earlier this week on the contributions of foreign-born inventors to the American economy.  The report was released in conjunction with a letter in support of a path to a green card for foreign-born science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students signed by more than 100 university presidents.  (The letter was signed by UW System President Reilly and Chancellors Ward and Lovell.)
The House Judiciary Committee adopted by voice vote an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 3120, the Student Visa Reform Act. The legislation would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to require F visa holders to attend institutions of higher education that have been accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  The bill provides a three-year exemption for institutions that have not yet been accredited, but are certified by the Department of Homeland Security.

(APLU and the UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)