118th Congress Starts in Limbo

The 118th Congress convened on January 3, 2022, with little progress on the election of a Speaker of the House of Representatives. On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate convened without any problems and immediately adjourned until the end of the month. The House is expected to continue to vote on the election for Speaker of the House for the remainder of Friday and perhaps into the weekend. Once a Speaker is elected, the House will move forward with the appointment of committee leadership and membership.

Plenty of Earmarks for Higher Education in FY2023 Omnibus Appropriations Act

Late last year, the 117th Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the FY2023 Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act. While this Act included important increases for higher education programs and scientific research, it also included congressionally directed spending, commonly known as earmarks, that benefit graduate education. Below are a few earmarks that benefit graduate education at CGS member-institutions:

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  • $50 million to the University of Alabama for an endowment fund to support the recruitment and retention of science and engineering faculty
  • $3 million to the University of Texas at Dallas for semiconductor workforce development programs
  • $3 million to Missouri State University for an endowment fund to support recruitment and retention of faculty in health and life sciences
  • $2.16 million to the University of California-San Diego for pipelines into STEM careers
  • $1,995,000 to Morgan State University for a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences program
  • $1.5 million to Northern Illinois University for microchip research and training
  • $1 million to Northeastern University for an associate’s to master’s degree accelerator program
  • $1 million to UC Berkeley for a social science research and postdoctoral pipeline program
  • $1 million to the University of Rhode Island for the purchase of equipment for a high-performance computing project
  • $1 million to the University of Hawaii for an indigenous data sciences hub
  • $950,000 to Towson University for a teacher workforce pipeline program
  • $500,000 to the University of Central Florida for academic research on Puerto Rico
  • $460,584 to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center for an injury and violence prevention center
  • $204,800 to the National Veteran Memorial and Museum Operating Corporation in Columbus Ohio for graduate-level instruction to veterans including scholarships.

The list above is a snapshot of a few earmarks found in the FY2023 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education section. Additional information about earmarks in the FY2023 omnibus appropriations act can be found on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee website.

Department of Education Reviews Rules on Accreditation

According to Insider Higher Ed, the Biden Administration will hold a series of Negotiated Rulemaking sessions in spring 2023. The eight topics for executive action include Federal TRIO program, accreditation and related issues, state authorization, return to Title IV, cash management, third-party servicers and related issues, improving use of deferment and forbearances, and distance education. The article and links to the administration’s description of the eight topics for negotiated rulemaking can be found here.

DHS Proposes Increased Fees for Visa Applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency within  the Department of Homeland Security, recently issued a proposed rule that increases immigration request fees. According to the USCIS press release, “The proposed fee rule is the result of a comprehensive fee review at USCIS. That review determined that the agency’s current fees, which have remained unchanged since 2016, fall far short of recovering the full cost of agency operations. USCIS generally publishes a fee rule biennially and proposes these changes to account for the expansion of humanitarian programs, federally mandated pay raises, additional staffing requirements, and other essential investments.”

According to the immigration, legal, business, and higher education stakeholders, these changes will result in significant increases in visa fees, especially H-1B visas and employment-based green cards.

NIH to Hold Grants Conference

As mentioned in the December 21, 2022, Washington Insights and Highlights Newsletter, the National Institutes of Health will host a virtual grants conference on February 1 and 2, 2023. The conference is targeted to individuals new to NIH grants and/or looking to better understand the processes and policies behind NIH funding. During the event, experts will share policies, resources, guidance, and case studies. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Michael S. Lauer, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research. You can view the agenda and register for the event here.

Yemeni Students to Receive Temporary Employment Authorization

In direct result to the crisis in Yemen, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a rule extending and redesignating temporary protected status for Yemen citizens. The rule also provides relief to Yemeni students with F-1 visas so they may request employment authorization, work an increased number of hours while school is in session, and reduce their course load while continuing to maintain their F-1 nonimmigrant student status.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned in a press release, “The people of Yemen are continuing to suffer a complex and deteriorating humanitarian crisis. Under this extension and redesignation, Yemeni nationals and habitual residents of Yemen who have been present in the United States as of Dec. 29, 2022, will be eligible to temporarily stay in the United States until conditions in Yemen improve and individuals can safely return.”