E-Update for February 13, 2017

E-Update for February 13, 2017

Highlights

  • Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to be the U.S. Secretary of Education by a vote of 51-50. The Senate also confirmed Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services by a party-line vote of 52-47.
  • On February 7, the House passed two resolutions to allow for disapproval of the U.S. Department of Education’s (USED) Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) regulation on accountability and state plans (J. Res 57) and USED’s regulation on teacher preparation issues (H.J. Res 58) under the Congressional Review Act.
  • On February 10, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos sent a letter to Chief State School Officers, confirming that the Department will maintain the current timeline for submitting ESSA state plans to the Department for review and approval in April and September.

U.S. Congress

Nominations:

Senate Confirms Besty DeVos to be U.S. Secretary of Education: The U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos to be the U.S. Secretary of Education by a vote of 51-50.  Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) opposed the nomination resulting in a 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he voted for DeVos because she will implement ESSA as Congress intended, supports charter schools, and has worked tirelessly for low-income students to have the same educational opportunities as wealthy students. Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) said she is standing with the thousands of students, parents, and teachers across the country in strong support of public schools and true educational opportunities for all students by opposing DeVos. Chairman Alexander’s statement can be found here and Ranking Member Murray’s statement here.
February 7, 2017

Senate Confirms Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS): The Senate confirmed HHS Secretary Tom Price by a vote of 52-47 along party lines. Senator McCaskill (D-MO) was the only member not voting. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander said he voted to confirm Price because he “will be an excellent partner as Congress works to rescue Americans trapped in the failing Obamacare system and to build better health care systems.” Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray opposed Price’s nomination because of his “backwards views on women’s health, his harmful vision for health care in our country, and the ethical questions that remain unresolved.” Chairman Alexander’s statement is available here and Ranking Member Murray’s statement is here.
February 10, 2017

Nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be OMB Director Advances to the Full Senate: The U.S. Senate could consider the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to be the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as early as this week. On February 2, the Senate Budget Committee voted 12-11 along party-lines to advance to the full Senate the nomination of Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to serve as OMB Director.
February 2, 2017

Congressional Review Act (CRA):

House Passes H.J. Res 57 to Allow for Disapproval of USED’s ESSA Accountability and State Plans Regulation: The House passed resolution – H.J. Res 57 – to allow for disapproval of USED’s ESSA regulation on accountability and state plans under the Congressional Review Act.  This resolution passed by a vote of 234-190. The vote was along party lines with the exception of one Republican member – Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) – who opposed the resolution.
February 7, 2017

House Passes H.J. Res 58 to Allow for Disapproval of USED’s Teacher Preparation Issues Regulation: The House passed resolution – H.J. Res 58 – to allow for disapproval of USED’s regulation on teacher preparation issues under the Congressional Review Act.  This resolution passed by a vote of 240-181 along party lines with the exception of five Democratic members – Reps. Denny Heck (D-WA), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) – who also supported the resolution.
February 7, 2017

Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Release Statements on the Passage of H.J. Res 57 and 58: Regarding the passage of resolutions, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said, “Today, the House took an important step to limit the federal government’s hold on our nation’s classrooms, colleges, and universities. These resolutions will help protect local control and ensure every child has the best chance to receive a high-quality education.” Chairwoman Foxx’s statement can be found here. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), sponsor of H.J. Res 57, also released a statement, which can be found here. Additionally, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), sponsor of H.J. Res 58, released a statement, which is available here.
February 7, 2017

Ranking Member Murray Issues Statement Following the House CRA Votes: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray issued a statement following the House votes saying, “now is the time for us in Congress to get back to working together to build on our bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act and invest in our students and schools, not for Republicans to poison the well with a partisan vote to gut our bipartisan law, give even more authority to the Secretary of Education to implement her anti-public school agenda, and open the door to students and communities across the country falling through the cracks.”
February 8, 2017

Senate:

Ranking Member Murray and Senator Cantwell Send Joint Letter on USED’s IDEA Website: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Murray issued a joint statement with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) calling on new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to provide an immediate and detailed explanation for why the resource website for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was no longer available.  The website, the Senators asserted, has served as a one-stop-shop for resources related to IDEA and its regulations, and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has consistently updated this website as Congress has enacted new legislation and the Courts have interpreted the law.
February 10, 2017

House:

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Holds Hearing on Higher Education: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on “Challenges and Opportunities in Higher Education.” During the hearing, witnesses and members of the Committee highlighted the need to address rising costs, simply the federal student aid system, and reduce regulatory burdens. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Foxx’s statement can be found here and Ranking Member Bobby Scott’s (D-VA) statement here.
February 7, 2017

Rep. Mark Takano Releases “Progressive Education Agenda”: Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) released a new “Progressive Education Agenda” which calls for increased investments in public schools and early childhood education to achieve equity. The agenda specifically calls for a greater commitment to supporting teachers, increasing diversity and inclusivity in schools, advancing college and career readiness, and ensuring equitable access to resources. The agenda was endorsed by the House Public Education Caucus. The agenda can be found here.
February 7, 2017

Administration

USED Secretary DeVos Sends Letter to Chief State School Officers: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos sent a letter to Chief State School Officers regarding the implementation of ESSA. In the letter, DeVos clarified, “States should continue to follow the timeline for developing and submitting their State plans to the Department for review and approval.” The letter also stated, “…the Department, in consultation with SEAs as well as other State and local stakeholders, will develop a revised template for consolidated State plans that meets the “absolutely necessary” requirement by March 13, 2017.”  Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander released a statement in support of the letter, noting that it provides clarity to states. Chairman Alexander’s statement can be found here.
February 10, 2017

USED Secretary DeVos Addresses Department Staff: USED Secretary DeVos addressed the Department at an all-staff meeting, during which she stated, “So I ask every educator, every parent, everyone involved in educating our nation’s students, and all of us here: Let us set aside any preconceived notions and let’s recognize that while we may have disagreements, we can –and must—come together, find common ground and put the needs of our students first.” A video of the speech can be found here.
February 8, 2017

Upcoming Events

On February 14, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing at 10:00 am entitled, “Restoring Balance and Fairness to the National Labor Relations Board.” Additional information and video of the hearing can be found here.

On February 15, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing at 10:00 am entitled, “Providing Vulnerable Youth the Hope of a Brighter Future Through Juvenile Justice Reform.” Additional information and video of the hearing can be found here.

On February 16, the Senate HELP Committee will hold a nomination hearing at 10:00 am for Andrew Puzder, who is nominated to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Additional information and video of the hearing can be found here.

On February 15, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing at 10:00 am entitled, “The Geography of Poverty,” to examine how the geography of poverty has changed over time, the differences between urban, suburban, and rural poverty, and how efforts to address poverty may vary to account for geographical differences. The press release can be found here.

On March 1, the House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a Members’ Day hearing at 10:00 am to listen and allow each Member of the House to have his or her voice heard in the crafting of the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations bill. The press release can be found here.

Legislation

S. Res. 40
A resolution designating the week beginning on February 5, 2017, as “National Tribal Colleges and Universities Week”.
Sponsor: Heitkamp (D-ND)

S. Res. 43
A resolution recognizing January 2017 as National Mentoring Month.
Sponsor: Isakson (R-GA)

S. Res. 44
A resolution designating February 6 through 10, 2017, as “National School Counseling Week”.
Sponsor: Murray (D-WA)

S. Res. 47
A resolution supporting the contributions of Catholic schools.
Sponsor: Donnelly (D-IN)

S. 185
A bill to amend the Head Start Act to authorize block grants to States for prekindergarten education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Lee (R-UT)

S. 206
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow the Secretary of Education to award job training Federal Pell Grants.
Sponsor: Kaine (D-VA)

S. 208
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit fully refundable, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: King (I-ME)

S. 221
A bill to allow a State to submit a declaration of intent to the Secretary of Education to combine certain funds to improve the academic achievement of students.
Sponsor: Daines (R-MT)

S. 235
A bill to expand opportunity through greater choice in education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Scott (R-SC)

S. 246
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to support fire safety education programs on college campuses.
Sponsor: Menendez (D-NJ)

S. 268
A bill to provide the legal framework necessary for the growth of innovative private financing options for students to fund postsecondary education, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Young (R-IN)

H.J. Res. 58
A resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to teacher preparation issues.
Sponsor: Guthrie (R-KY)

H. Res. 108
A resolution expressing support for designation of the week of February 6, 2017, through February 10, 2017, as “National School Counseling Week”.
Sponsor: Sanchez (D-CA)

H.R. 716
A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to encourage the use of 529 plans and Coverdell education savings accounts, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Messer (R-IN)

H.R. 719
A bill to allow a State to submit a declaration of intent to the Secretary of Education to combine certain funds to improve the academic achievement of students.
Sponsor: Walker (R-NC)

H.R. 737
A bill to amend the Head Start Act to promote trauma-informed practices, age-appropriate positive behavioral intervention and support, services for young children who have experienced trauma or toxic stress, and improved coordination between Head Start agencies and other programs that serve very young children.
Sponsor: Clark (D-MA)

H.R. 746
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Education to make grants to support fire safety education programs on college campuses.
Sponsor: Pascrell (D-NJ)

H.R. 758
A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize veterans who are entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs to use such entitlement to participate in a career transition internship program for veterans.
Sponsor: Schneider (D-IL)

H.R. 899
A bill to terminate the Department of Education.
Sponsor: Massie (R-KY)

H.R. 926
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reduce the principal amount on loans made to STEM majors.
Sponsor: Soto (D-FA)

H.R. 949
A bill to increase Federal Pell Grants for the children of fallen public safety officers, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

H.R. 977
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to create a demonstration project to fund additional secondary school counselors in troubled title I schools to reduce the dropout rate.
Sponsor: Sanchez (D-CA)

H.R. 996
A bill to direct the Secretary of Labor to establish a competitive grant program for community colleges to train veterans for local jobs.
Sponsor: Kihuen (D-NV)

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