The Office of Federal Relations continues to go through the current iteration of the reconciliation package. In our last post, we highlighted some of the education, research, and climate-related provisions. Not surprisingly, there are myriad other provisions of interest in the text.
A significant portion of the funds for the USDA would be dedicated to efforts to address challenges posed by wildfires. For example, $2 billion is slated for efforts to reduce wildfires and $1 billion is earmarked to implement wildfire protection plans. The plan would also allocate $25 million for burned forest forest rehabilitation and recovery and $150 million would be dedicated to state fire assistance programs. The EPA section of the bill would create a $150-million community wildfire planning grants program.
The current version of the legislation includes several competitive grant programs to address wildfires/ land forest management as well. These include, for example, a $250-million proposal to implement climate mitigation/ forest resilience practice among underserved forest landowners as well as a $200-million for a forest health/inventory program. The bill also calls for the creation of a $775-million program to promote innovate wood products, including for building materials.
The reconciliation bill includes a number of tax-related provisions of interest to UW and other universities. A change to the tax code that might be of interest to some public universities is the proposed creation of a public university research infrastructure tax credit in which up to 40 percent of a qualified cash contribution for projects related to the purchase, construction, or improvement of a research infrastructure property would be credited. The credit would be capped at $50 million per institution per year and the total amount of the credit would be capped at $500 million per year for five years.
The text also proposes to provide a 20-percent credit to institutions of higher education that take on certain categories of environmental justice programs. The credit would increase to 30 percent for Minority-Serving Institutions. The total size of the program would be capped at $1 billion per year for 10 years.
The proposal seeks to make changes to the revenue code as it applies to individual students and families as well. It would remove a Pell Grant award from a tax filer’s gross income for tax purposes. It would also not count the value of a student/family’s Pell Grant for the purposes of determining the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifelong Learning Credit. Another provision would restore the eligibility of those convicted for drug offenses to participate in the AOTC.
Medical/ Health Care Workforce
The current framework also delves into the medical/ health care workforce arena, looking to add significant funds in a number of different fields. For instance, Sec. 137401 looks to provide scholarships to medical schools to attract 1,000 future medical doctors to serve in rural and/or underserved communities. The vouchers for scholarships would be aimed at students coming from first generation/ Pell-eligible/underserved backgrounds.
Examples of other medical/ health care workforce-related measures include: $150 million for children’s hospitals that house graduate medical education; $650 million for the National Health Service Corps; $200 million for the Nurse Corps; $170 million for schools of nursing to grow and diversify nursing workforce in maternal and prenatal health; and, $85 million to health professions schools to address health risks related to climate change.
The Congressional Democrats continue to seek to use the reconciliation package to address a number of immigration- and visa-related issues.
As noted in the previous post, the package would extend federal student aid eligibility to DACA- and Temporary Protected Status-eligible students. It would also enable individuals who entered the country prior to January 1, 2010, to seek green cards. The framework also proposes to recapture both unused employment- and family-based green cards from prior years and make them available going forward.
However, in its current form, the legislative text would increase a host of fees associated with international students, faculty, and staff, including those on F, J, and H visas, among other visas categories. We are still assessing the scope and magnitude of these proposed increases.
We continue to go through the text. It is important to keep in mind that the version that is currently being analyzed most likely will not be the final version that gets taken up for a vote, as negotiations still continue even as this is being written.