Republicans Win Control of the House and Democrats Keep the Senate

It has been a week since the 2022 Midterm Elections and the votes are still being counted. The Republican party have won 218 House seats and will assume the majority in the 118th Congress. The Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate and are awaiting the December 6th Georgia run-off election. According to media reports, there will be several important changes to House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate HELP Committee.

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For example, it is being reported that Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will move from being the chair of Senate HELP Committee to become chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) will assume the leadership of Senate HELP. In the House of Representatives, the current ranking member, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will not become chair of the House Education and Labor Committee in the new congress due to committee term limits. CGS staff will provide additional information about House and Senate leadership and Committee assignments as it becomes available.

Laundry List of To-Dos for Congress During Lame Duck

Now that the Midterm Elections are over, Members of Congress have plenty to do before sine die of the 117th Congress. For starters, congressional Democrats and retiring Republicans would like to pass an omnibus appropriations package before the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 16th. If an appropriations package is not passed before the CR expires, Congress will need to pass another short-term funding resolution. In addition to appropriations, Congress must pass funding for hurricane disaster relief, a pandemic relief package, raise the debt-limit, and pass the National Defense Authorization Act.

Recently, CGS and other higher education associations have been in contact with congressional leaders to encourage final passage and enactment of an omnibus appropriations bill before the end of the 117th Congress. For more information about federal programs of interest to CGS, please visit  our budget and appropriations page.

House Democrats Plan to Introduce DACA Legislation Before the End of 117th Congress

Earlier this week, House Democrats announced their plans to pass and send to the Senate legislation to protect Dreamers and DACA recipients. While the details of the bill are still being worked out, it will include language from the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) which passed the House of Representatives in 2021. CGS recently signed a letter sent to Congressional leadership urging them to pass legislation to provide permanent protection for Dreamers. The letter states, “Despite the challenges they face, Dreamers have made incredible contributions to our country and its economy and security. If we are unable to protect them, we will be shutting the door to an entire generation of individuals who wish to be part of our American story.”

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Established during the Obama Administration, DACA provided deportation protection and work permits for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. In October 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled against the program stating that the Department of Homeland Security does not have the authority to provide protection to immigrants under DACA and that the program was created in violation of procedural rules that require federal agencies to request and consider public comments. On August 24, the Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule to preserve and fortify the program. However, codifying DACA through legislation is the only way to protect the program from litigation.

Continued Legal Challenges to Biden’s Student Debt Forgiveness Plan

On August 24, the Biden Administration announced and laid-out its plan to cancel up to $20,000 in debt for Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation for non-Pell Grant recipients. Since then, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit as well as the Eighth Circuit has blocked the Department of Education for forgiving loans under the program. The Biden Administration plans to appeal both rulings and Department of Education Secretary Cardona issued a recent press release in response to the District Court’s ruling. The announcement on August 24 also called for an extension to the pause on student loan repayment through December 31, 2022. Student debt relief advocates are now calling for the pause to be extended until the program begins forgiving loans. House Republicans sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young regarding the implementation and cost analysis of the student loan overhaul.

NSF Launches Safeguarding Science Toolkit

Earlier this week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) joined federal and university partners to announce its Safeguarding Science Toolkit. According to the NSF press release, the toolkit was “designed with the scientific community for the scientific community. It provides research stakeholders with a single location to access security best practices from across government and academia and to select tools tailored for their individual needs.”

“The Safeguarding Science toolkit provides a framework for researchers to openly collaborate while establishing protections that keep theft, misuse and other threats at bay,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.

CGS Releases Latest Graduate Enrollment and Degrees Report

This week CGS released the latest Graduate Enrollment and Degrees report, published annually since 1986. The report is the only national survey that collects data on first-time and total graduate enrollment across all fields of master’s and research doctorate programs in the United States. Key takeaways include:

  • Applications for admissions increased substantially by 8.7 percent and first-time enrollment increased by 8.9 percent between Fall 2020 to Fall 2021.
  • The rise in applications for admissions between Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 was driven by Doctoral Universities with Very High Research Activity (R1) (6.6 percent) and Doctoral Universities with High Research Activity (R2) (16.2 percent).
    • Together, these two categories of institutions accounted for 81 percent of the increases in applications between Fall 2020 and Fall 2021.
  • The overall first-time enrollment increase was driven by the 94.5 percent increase in international graduate students in Fall 2021, rebounding from the 37.4 percent decrease in Fall of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • First-time graduate enrollment among underrepresented minorities (URM) decreased 4.5 percent among American Indian/Alaska Native students, 4.1 percent among Black/African American students, and 0.9 percent among Latinx students between Fall 2020 and Fall 2021. The decline in domestic students also comes after five years of gradual increases.

The Institute of International Education also released their latest Open Doors report, which revealed an 80 percent increase in new international student enrollments in the 2021/2022 academic year.