Congress returned to DC this week after a two-week recess. Although national attention was focused primarily on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's hearings, there were a number of other hearings and legislative activities that were relevant to higher education.
"Scholar or Spies" Hearing Recap
On April 11, the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Oversight and Research and Technology held a joint hearing "to explore foreign nations' exploitation of U.S. academic institutions for the purpose of accessing and engaging in the exfiltration of valuable science and technology research and development." Witnesses included the commissioner of U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a former national counterintelligence executive, the author of "Spy Schools" and the director of threat intelligence of PhishLabs. In advance of the hearing, the American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Universities, and the Council on Government Relations provided the subcommittees with a statement for the record. Rep. Dan Lipinski participated in the hearing and made a point that a "scalpel and not an axe" is needed to address this problem. He underscored that we need foreign nationals to study in the U.S., both for research and economic growth.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Introduces Farm Bill
On April 12, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee unveiled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2). The legislation would reauthorize the 2014 Farm Bill, which expires in September. While the Office of Governmental Relations is still reviewing the legislation, the Research title, which is of great interest to Urbana-Champaign's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, largely preserves the status quo. It reauthorizes the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) – USDA's flagship competitive grants program – at $700 million, the current level. Within the Nutrition title, it makes significant changes to the nutrition education programs that U of I Extension leads. The committee is planning to mark-up the bill next week.
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Chancellor Michael Amiridis and Marty Gutierrez from UIC's Office of Public and Government Affairs were in DC to participate in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Capitol Forum. Chancellor Amiridis was recently elected to the governing board of HACU, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote Hispanic student success in higher education. During the forum, Chancellor Amiridis moderated a panel discussion on immigration. Along with Northeastern Illinois University, Gutierrez also met with Illinois delegation offices to provide an update on UIC.
University of Illinois Extension led a group of Extension volunteers and 4-H delegates to DC as part of the annual Public Issues Leadership Development Conference, which engages Extension professionals from across the nation. They spent a full day advocating on Capitol Hill, where they discussed the impact of Extension and Smith-Lever funding.
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth welcomed her second baby girl. Read more.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he won't seek re-election. Read more.
OGR Federal Relations
Paul Weinberger and Melissa Haas