NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara Mistick

November 12, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Members of Congress took a break this week to work in their home districts after passing the long-awaited bipartisan infrastructure package late last week. As we reported earlier this year, this bill, passed by the Senate this summer, includes several provisions important to colleges and universities and their students. Of particular note is the $65 billion included for broadband internet expansion across the country. 

These funds should provide faster and more reliable digital access to online college courses and resources for students. They should also help qualifying institutions provide better online service for both students and faculty. The Department of Commerce will provide more information in the coming months about how these funds will be distributed.

As part of the agreement to pass the infrastructure bill and send it to President Biden for his signature, the House approved a rule to allow for the consideration of the Build Back Better plan the week of November 15. This will allow the Congressional Budget Office to provide an updated cost estimate for the $1.75 trillion legislation, and for the House to finalize its negotiations. Once the House passes the bill, it will need to be considered by the Senate. During consideration in the Senate, the bill could change depending on amendments and determinations made by the Senate Parliamentarian as to which provisions are allowed under the reconciliation rules.

With Congress scheduled to be out the week of Thanksgiving, Senate consideration is likely to be pushed to early December. The continuing resolution keeping the government open expires on December 3, which brings both budget items to a head at about the same time. Congress will need to pass another continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown because House and Senate Appropriations Committees have not yet taken steps to finalize FY 2022 spending bills.

Today’s Washington Update features a story on three grant opportunities offered through the Department of Education for colleges and universities to assist colleges and universities in a range of student-centered programs and initiatives.


  • We have already seen the predicted flurry of lawsuits filed in response to last week’s unveiling of the OSHA vaccine or testing mandate for large employers. One court has already temporarily blocked the rule, but the case will eventually be consolidated with similar lawsuits filed in other jurisdictions and heard by a different group of judges. Ultimately, this week’s ruling is merely the opening salvo in what is expected to be a long legal battle over the OSHA rule.

Double Pell

“I always knew that I needed to go to college to build a career in computer science, but the cost of attending was something that my family could not afford. College is expensive and receiving funding through Pell grants fills the gaps left after my scholarships are applied. Without this funding, it would be difficult to attend college, and paying for my education would require me to work full time and extend the length of time it would take for me to graduate. Additional Pell funds would take away so much of the stress that comes from paying for college for so many of us students.”

Colton Maybee, student, Heritage University (WA)

Click here to read more about Colton’s story.

Our staff continues to hear from policy makers about the importance of student voices in telling the stories about the critical role the Pell Grant has played in their educational journeys. I hope you will encourage your students to tell their stories and send letters to Congress to make sure their voices are heard.

Thank you for your continued support of private, nonprofit higher education and the students, families, and communities we serve.

Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
President, NAICU

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