Summer 2018
COHA Scientists Discuss Comparative Research on Capitol Hill
Pictured, left to right: Dr. Huggins, Dr. Kent, and Dr. Monjazeb. Not pictured: Dr. Kurilla.
Helping lawmakers better understand the galaxy of opportunities associated with comparative research was the focus of an AAVMC Legislative Briefing held on July 19 in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill. Titled "It's a Dog's Life" (that may save yours!)" the briefing featured remarks from an NIH official leading the institutes' Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, as well as three scientists working in human medicine, veterinary medicine and biomedical research.

Fifteen AAVMC member institutions are members of the Clinical and Translational Science Award One Health Alliance (COHA). Click here to see a fact sheet on COHA.

H1-B Visa Program Update
AAVMC officials and others recently had a productive teleconference with Trent Frazier, who is with the Office of Academic Engagement at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). AAVMC member institutions use two methods for determining H1-B visa wage determination. One goes through the Department of Labor (DOL) and the other is processed through the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The majority of AAVMC institutions use the DOL method, but there is inconsistency in approvals and disapprovals, both regionally and even within the same institution. Members who use the USCIS method that have currently been denied processing are invited to reach out directly to Frazier for support (Trent Frazier, Executive Director, Office of Academic Engagement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, (202) 282-8162 or trent.frazier@hq.dhs.gov).

If your institution uses the DOL method for determination, we advise you to continue to advocate with your elected officials to secure a favorable determination and obtain the broader goal of creating more consistency going forward. DHS has offered to work with AAVMC and the Federated Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP) to put together a round-table meeting with DHS, DOL and the representatives of the FASHP groups in order to work out a consistent and workable program for determinations in the future. AAVMC has offered to work with the agencies to make this happen as soon as possible.
Farm Bill Advances to Conference Committee
The sweeping 2018 Farm Bill is now in conference committee, where differences between the House of Representatives' Agriculture & Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) and the Senate's Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3042) will be considered and compromises will be struck.

AAVMC 's Farm Bill priorities include:
  • Reauthorization of the Foundation for Food and Ag Research (FFAR)
  • National Animal Disease Preparedness & Response Program
  • Vaccine Bank
  • National Animal Health Laboratory Network reauthorization and funding
  • Expanded Section 1433 Competitive Grants
Significant differences between the two bills include:
  • House version contains new work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • House version does NOT contain the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR)
  • Senate version contains language that could potentially harm the Veterinary Services Grant Program
  • NAHLN gets $30 million for five years in the Senate bill (not mandatory), $30 million mandatory in the House bill (but only for one year)
Following conference committee work, the bill must then be passed by the House and Senate again before going on to President Trump for signature.
HEA PROSPER Act Likely Shelved for This Year
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) appears to be dead for this session of Congress. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced in June that he could not reach an agreement with Democrats to bring forward bipartisan legislation that would pass the Senate. On the House side, HR 4508, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act passed out of the Education and Workforce Committee in December of 2017.  Republican leadership gave Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) the task of rounding up 218 votes for the bill before they would give her time for full floor consideration. AAVMC joined more than 90 other organizations to advocate against bringing the bill to the floor, largely because the bill ends the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The last whip count from Republican leaders only gave the bill around 170 votes, not nearly enough to pass without substantial revisions. While Chairwoman Foxx continues to press for a vote, we do not believe that is going to happen before the election in November.

Agriculture Secretary Perdue Visits Washington State University
WSU-CVM Dean Dr. Brian Slinker (right) chats with Secretary Perdue (left).
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited another AAVMC member institution on Monday, July 2 when he spent time touring Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Perdue met with WSU College of Veterinary Medicine Dean and AAVMC Board-member Dr. Brian Slinker as part of the visit. He discussed a variety of issues while on site, including the status of the Farm Bill, the need for greater food productivity and security. Perdue's trip coincides with tensions within the nation's agricultural community concerning the impact of tariffs being levied or threatened by the Trump Administration. Perdue also told audiences how much he enjoys visiting various areas of the country to learn more about the agricultural industry in various sectors of the country.

National Academies Study Outlines Scientific Directions for Promoting Agricultural Productivity
A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report titled "Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food & Agricultural Research by 2030" outlines five major strategies for increasing the U.S. food and agriculture system's sustainability, competitiveness and resilience. Click here to explore materials that outline the challenges and the approaches that must be considered to feed a population expected to reach 8.6 billion people by 2030 -  all during a period of enormous pressure on natural resources and the environment. The AAVMC was a sponsor of the study.
Domestic Explosives Detection Canine Capacity Building Act
On June 26, AAVMC President and Auburn University CVM Dean Dr. Calvin Johnson and AAVMC Governmental Affairs Director Kevin Cain met with Brett Richards, Counsel for the office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). The meeting was held to discuss advancing HR 4577, the Domestic Explosives Detection Canine Capacity Building Act of 2017. The legislation would benefit many AAVMC member institutions by creating a framework for science-based breeding and training of working dogs which are used by several agencies of the federal government for threat detection. Schools such as Penn, Auburn, LSU and others have many of the elements of this proposed program already in place, and would be well positioned to scale up to meet the federal demand. Currently, many of these dogs are purchased from overseas suppliers, at great expense, and there is very little scientific evaluation of the dog's abilities or best breeding practices. AAVMC will continue advocacy efforts on behalf of this legislation, which is of vital importance from a national security standpoint.
UC-Davis Professor Christine Kreuder Conducting 2018 AAVMC Public Policy Faculty Fellowship
Dr. Kreuder Johnson
University of California-Davis Professor Dr. Christine Kreuder Johnson is conducting a 2018 AAVMC Public Policy Faculty Fellowship. Dr. Johnson specializes in wildlife epidemiology, with a special emphasis on wildlife population health and emerging infectious diseases, so she was able to provide policymakers with a veterinary perspective on how scientists and educators can engage with policymakers to take steps to combat the threat of emerging and potentially pandemic diseases.
The AAVMC initiated the faculty fellows program in 2015 to help AAVMC-member institutions' faculty representatives develop leadership skills in the advocacy arena, explore the importance of public policy decisions to the profession, and gain overall knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process at the federal level. To read a more detailed story on her experience, please click here.
Advocacy Letters
The AAVMC signed on to the following advocacy letters designed to advance positions of interest to academic veterinary medicine.
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
202-371-9195

655 K Street, NW, Suite 725
Washington, DC, 20001
www.aavmc.org

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