Last week, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science sent a dear colleague letter to principal investigators and researchers. Acting Director J. Stephen Binkley stated, “While the people of Ukraine have many needs, the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Science (SC) can provide a safe and supportive environment for students, post-doctoral researchers, and scientists to continue their research in mission-relevant disciplines. In this time of crisis, we remind our currently supported researchers that supplemental funds may be requested to accelerate scientific discovery by hosting or collaborating with students and scientists who have been impacted by the conflict, pursuant to the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) identified below. DOE will work with other U.S. Government agencies to coordinate logistical details, such as visas, as needed.”
Other governmental organizations have also expressed support for Ukrainian researchers. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine launched the Safe Passage Fund to support the Polish Academy of Sciences as it helps fleeing Ukrainian scholars and their families relocate in Poland and neighboring countries. And the Canadian government launched the Special Response Fund for Trainees, which provides support to research trainees from Ukraine in the form of supplements to existing grants.
Biden Administration Extends Student Loan Pause
On April 6, the White House released a statement on President Biden’s action to pause the payment of student loans until August 31, 2022. The president is quoted, “I am asking all student loan borrowers to work with the Department of Education to prepare for a return to repayment, look into Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and explore other options to lower their payments. Vice President Harris and I are focused on supporting borrowers in need and believe that this pause will provide a continued lifeline as we recover and rebuild from the pandemic.”
The U.S. Department of Education also issued a release regarding student loan repayment, including the work the department is doing regarding the retooling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. “The Department of Education is committed to ensuring that student loan borrowers have a smooth transition back to repayment,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “This additional extension will allow borrowers to gain more financial security as the economy continues to improve and as the nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It remains a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration to support students, families, and borrowers – especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. During the pause, we will continue our preparations to give borrowers a fresh start and to ensure that all borrowers have access to repayment plans that meet their financial situations and needs.”
House Judiciary Committee Approves Immigration Legislation
By a vote of 22-14, the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would eliminate per-country caps on employment-based green cards and raise per-country caps for family-based immigrant green cards. The EAGLE Act of 2021 is sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the Subcommittee of Immigration and Citizenship. Representative Lofgren mentioned in a press release in 2021 when the bill was introduced, “The basic framework for allocating immigrant visas dates back to the middle of the 20th century and was last seriously updated in 1990, when Congress established the worldwide numerical limits on visas and the seven-percent per-country cap that still exists today. Over time, these limitations have led to backlogs that were unimaginable in 1990. The effect has been that countries with relatively small populations are allocated the same number of visas as a relatively large-population country. The result? A person from a large-population country with extraordinary qualifications who could contribute greatly to our economy and create jobs waits behind a person with lesser qualifications from a smaller country. It makes no sense. Because of this, we are now seeing recruiters from outside America luring those with the highest skills away from the U.S. That hurts our economy. The bipartisan EAGLE Act moves our country toward a system that de-emphasizes birthplace and better serves America. Simply put, it will allow U.S. companies to focus on what they do best – hiring smart people to create products and services, which creates jobs in our districts.”
On the other side of the U.S. Capitol, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced plans to revive bipartisan discussion on immigration reform. For more information, please read the article from The Hill Newspaper.
House Appropriations Committee Begin Accepting Earmark Requests
On April 4, the House Appropriations Committee began accepting “community project funding,” (commonly known as earmarks). This is the second consecutive year that Congress will be able to set aside line items in appropriations bills after over a decade long hiatus. Deadlines to submit earmarks to the various agency funding bills are on April 27-29. Funding request guidance for each appropriations subcommittee can be found here.
Conference Committee for USICA/America COMPETES Announced
Late last week, Congressional leaders announced the conference committee for the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA) and the House-passed America COMPETES Act. Senate majority membership can be found here and Senate minority membership can be found here. House majority membership can be found here and House minority membership here. On March 22, CGS and 21 other higher education associations sent a letter to Congressional leaders outlining our priorities for joint conference committee negotiations for this competitiveness legislation.
FY2023 Appropriations: National Science Foundation Dear Colleague Letter
Representatives C.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and David McKinley (R-WV) have released a dear colleague letter in support of Fiscal Year 2023 funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF). For many years, Representatives Butterfield and McKinley have annually cosponsored the NSF Dear Colleague Letter.
Please share this NSF Dear Colleague Letter with your Members of Congress and encourage them to sign-on and support the letter. The deadline for House Member sign-on is April 25, 2022.
Any questions about the Dear Colleague Letter can be directed to the offices of Representatives Butterfield and McKinley.
Congressman Butterfield (NC-01) – Christina Donovan (Christina.Donovan@mail.house.gov)
Congressman McKinley, P.E. (WV-01) – Alex Weixel (Alexander.Weixel@mail.house.gov)