Spring 2019
Trump Administration Weighs in on Higher Education Act
With no action taken on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act by the 115th Congress, we are closely watching how this important legislation will be dealt with by the 116th. The Trump Administration has released a white paper detailing their priorities as the legislation is shaped. Some of those involve changes that increase institutional accountability, address the educational cost and student debt crisis, and reverse what they view as harmful regulatory initiatives. We applaud the Administration for focusing their attention on this important legislation and will work closely with our partners in helping shape this momentous bill as it moves through the legislative process.
Executive Order on Free Speech Creates Concerns on Campus
President Trump recently signed an Executive Order on March 21, 2019 concerning campus free speech that is generating some concern throughout the higher education community. University campuses have historically been viewed as bastions of free speech in our democratic society. But this order seems grounded in the belief that some universities have an inherently liberal bias and are not providing opportunities for public expression and special events that represent the full spectrum of opinion on issues. One alarming note: the order encourages agency chiefs to consider blocking or impeding federal research support from universities deemed out of step with the executive order. Read a response from our colleagues at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).
Educators Advance our Cause During 2019 Advocacy Day
The AAVMC's 2019 Advocacy Day was a resounding success. Eighty-six educators from our colleges and schools participated in 166 meetings on Capitol Hill, the most we have ever done. More than 90 people enjoyed our traditional post-Advocacy Day reception as well, which was held in room 1300 Longworth, the Agriculture Committee Hearing Room, with its great view of the Capitol. Our day got started with a kick-off presentation from Dr. Elise Ackley, an LSU graduate who currently works as a Senior Associate for Government Relations at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Prior to joining Pew, Elise worked as an Agriculture and Appropriations Advisor to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and served as an AVMA Fellow in Senator Richard Durbin's office. Thanks to everyone who helped out this year. These personal visits really make a difference!

Efforts to Save Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Continue
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Coalition (the AAVMC is a member) has been meeting with all Members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. HELP Chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) have both laid out their principles for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA) and have begun negotiations and hearings. Senator Alexander has been clear that he would like to end the PSLF program, but there has not been any legislative language that would give specifics for any type of replacement for the program.

Trump Administration Budget Cuts NIH, USDA
The Presidents FY 2020 Budget was released on March 11, with the deeper, detailed budget numbers released the following week, on March 18. The budget proposes a 12% cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly $5 billion below FY 2019. The budget also proposes deep cuts at the Department of Agriculture. It zeroes out the Veterinary Services Grant Program, and cuts the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program from $8 million in FY 2019 back to $4.991 million. The budget has already been pronounced "dead on arrival" by many members of Congress, but we are working hard, along with the AVMA and our other coalition partners, to keep these cuts from being enacted.
USDA Seeking Leader for VMLRP and VSGP Programs
USDA has posted a job opening for an executive to oversee the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program and the Veterinary Services Grant Program in the USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The position is based in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability, Division of Animals Systems, which provides national support for research, education and extension programs in animal systems. Note: the application deadline is April 12. Click here for detailed information.

Fate of Planned NIFA, ERS Relocations Remain Unclear
Administration plans to move the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the federal Economic Research Office out of the National Capitol Region continue. The Administration's stated rationale for the moves is cost-savings and employee convenience, but opponents fear agency-wide brain-drains and diminished institutional collaborations. The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday, March 27 on the proposal. A recording of the subcommittee hearing can be found here and other coverage can be found here and here.

"Retaking the Field" Volume 4 Released, Member Institutions Featured
As members of Supporters of Agriculture Research (SOAR), we are sponsors of the fourth and latest version of "Retaking the Field," an information program that details how innovation and research are advancing agricultural science. "Science Breakthroughs for Thriving Farms and a Healthier Nation" features research underway at many of our member institutions in the areas of genomics, microbiomes, sensors, data and informatics and transdisciplinary research. The full report can be found here.
Foster our Future Highlights Research, Innovation in Agriculture

The AAVMC participated in "Foster our Future," an exposition presented by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) that focused on research and innovation. Held at the Ronald Reagan Building in February, the meetings featured a variety of exhibits, presentations and demonstrations that highlighted the achievements and the importance of scientific research in agriculture and the food sciences.
Advocacy Letters
The AAVMC continues to work closely with a wide array of organizations that share our interests in supporting the advancement of academic veterinary medicine, food security and public health. The letters below reflect some of that recent activity.
Please contact: AAVMC Governmental Affairs Director Kevin Cain at kcain@aavmc.org or 202-371-9195 (ext. 117) with any comments, questions and suggestions about our program.

Association of American Veterinary
Medical Colleges

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Washington, DC, 20001

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