E-Update for the Week of May 20, 2019

Highlights:

On May 17, the House passed H.R. 5, the “Equality Act.” The 236-173 vote was largely partisan, with eight Republicans voting in favor of the bill. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by including “sexual orientation and gender identity” in the law’s protections from discrimination based on sex.
On May 16, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director, Kathy Kraninger, sent a letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), in which the CFPB director stated “student loan servicers have declined to produce” any documents that the CFPB requested to supervise the actions of the servicers
On May 13, President Donald Trump sent a letter to Congress requesting that his fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request be amended. Included in his amendments are a restoration of approximately $18 million in funding for the Special Olympics and a rescission to the Pell Grant surplus of $3.87 billion.

Budget and Appropriations:
New CBO director announced: The Chairs of the Senate Budget Committee and House Budget Committee, Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) respectively, announced that Phillip L. Swagel […]

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E-Update for the Week of May 13, 2019

Highlights:

On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee held a markup of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS). The bill was favorably voted out of the Committee on a partisan vote of 30-23.
On May 8, the House Education and Labor Committee held a markup of H.R.2480, the “Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act” (CAPTA). The bill was unanimously approved out of Committee. The bill is intended to strengthen federal efforts to prevent and treat child abuse, with special considerations for the impact of the opioids epidemic.
On May 6, USED filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the court’s earlier decision that the Department illegally delayed the implementation of the significant disproportionality rule on the basis of the Administrative Procedures Act. The Department is appealing the decision, but no explanation was provided in the filing.

Budget and Appropriations:
House appropriators advance FY2020 Labor/HHS spending bill, still no Senate movement: The House Appropriations Committee held a markup […]

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E-Update for the Week of May 6, 2019

Highlights:

On May 1, POLITICO reported that USED has hired FI Consulting, an economic consulting firm, to analyze the “economic value” of the federal government’s student loan portfolio. The Department currently has a $1.5 trillion student loan portfolio, and the Department has allegedly considered selling off some of the debt to private investors.
On April 30, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) held a markup of its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. The bill was reported out from the Subcommittee on a partisan voice vote. The bill includes an allocation of $75.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Education (USED), an increase of $4.4 billion over FY2019 levels. The House Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on May 8.
On April 29, CQ reported that Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) will be waiting to move forward on FY2020 appropriations bills until there is an agreement on overall spending levels also known as spending caps.

Budget and Appropriations:
House Labor/HHS Subcommittee advances FY2020 spending bill, full Committee to consider May […]

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E-Update for the Week of April 29, 2019

Highlights:

On April 30 at 4:00pm, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee is holding a markup of the FY2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. The text of the draft bill is expected to be released on Monday, April 29.
On April 23, POLITICO reported that the U.S. Department of Education (USED) is not currently processing any borrower defense claims made by student loan borrowers, at least not those that will unlikely result in a student’s full loan being forgiven. There is currently a backlog of over 158,000 claims.
On April 22, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) sent a letter to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding a recent publication by the National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL). The Senator raised concerns with NCIL’s recent publication titled, “Screening for Dyslexia” in which he was concerned with the level of scholarship contained within the publication.

Budget and Appropriations:
House Labor/HHS Subcommittee to markup on FY2020 appropriations bill on Tuesday: On April 30 at 4:00pm, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee is holding […]

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How rising teacher pension costs hurt school districts

by SARAH BUTRYMOWICZ
Originally posted at www.hechingerreport.org on April 22, 2019.
States try to rescue their pension systems from bankruptcy, leaving less money for classrooms and teacher pay
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Glenn Gustafson was already bracing for a rough Valentine’s Day. Looming on his calendar was a sure-to-be-wrenching meeting to cut $10 million in spending from the Colorado Springs School District’s budget, a move largely forced by rapidly declining enrollment as families moved out of the district and singles moved in. Gustafson, the district’s CFO and — according to his wife — the “world’s only extroverted accountant,” had dubbed the meeting the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”
And then, the week before the scheduled budget bloodshed, he attended a presentation by the director of the state’s pension system and got some unpleasant news. Gustafson learned that his district might have to slash an additional $890,000 next year, as part of the state’s latest attempt to make the system solvent by 2049.
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E-Update for the Week of April 22, 2019

Highlights:

On April 15, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS). The letter, addressed to Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), requesting the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill include language that directs the U.S. Department of Education (USED) as it relates to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF).
On April 15, USED published draft consensus language from the negotiated rulemaking committees regarding various rules for the Higher Education Act. The public will be given an opportunity to comment on the notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs); any final regulations published before November 1, 2019 will become effective July 1, 2020 and any final regulations published on or after November 1, 2019 will become effective July 1, 2021.
On April 15, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office released a set of recommendations for what colleges and universities should and should not do when issuing financial aid […]

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Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM

The Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM is a unique collective act of leadership and accountability to advance excellence in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical fields (STEMM).  This initiative is providing customizable model policies (with embedded menus of options for flexibility), policy-law guidance, and practical tools to advance professional and ethical conduct, climate and culture in societies’ own operations and STEMM fields broadly, in support of the inclusion of all talent and excellence in the fields. Through a collective effort and investment, the consortium model can develop high-quality resources that benefit from multiple perspectives and national expertise, in a time and cost-efficient manner.  Toward these aims, the Consortium’s strategic focus is building communities actively intolerant of sexual and intersecting bases of harassment and building bridges for collective efforts across STEMM—among societies, academic and research institutions, teaching hospitals and others, as well as researchers, faculty, and students.  Launched in December 2018, there are currently 100  Inaugural Members (with the inaugural period ending on April 1, 2019). Membership remains open, however, with Societies continuing to join or exploring to […]

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Race in admissions in the wake of the Texas Tech resolution

By Art Coleman, JD, and Jamie Lewis Keith, JD.
Originally posted at www.aamc.org on April 12, 2019.
Medical schools may continue to pursue the all-important goals of diversity and inclusion while following the principles of law.
This week we learned that the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had resolved a complaint filed almost 14 years ago against Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). TTUHSC School of Medicine signed a resolution agreement ending the practice of considering race in admissions unless and until such time that it determines such consideration to be appropriate under the federal legal standards outlined by the OCR — and on the condition that it provides advance notice of that change to the OCR.
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E-Update for the Week of 12, 2019

Highlights:

On April 10, the House Education and Labor Committee held a full committee hearing titled, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education.” The hearing was focused on the FY2020 U.S. Department of Education (USED) budget proposal and included the testimony of USED Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Secretary used her opening statement to describe the FY2020 budget as a result of Congress’s impending spending cuts due to the Budget Control Act of 2011; her efforts to expand school choice with the Education Freedom Scholarships; and the expansion of Pell Grants applicability to high-quality, short-term training programs. Democrats largely focused their questions on how the Secretary was or was not enforcing the law, especially for ESSA state plans and investigating for-profit colleges. Republicans focused on the Secretary’s Education Freedom Scholarship proposal and what she is doing to implement the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
On April 10, House Appropriations Committee Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) stated the Subcommittee is likely to mark-up a fiscal year […]

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E-Update for the Weeks of April 1 and 8, 2019

Highlights:

On April 3, the House Budget Committee passed H.R.2021, the “Investing for the People Act of 2019.” The bill, which raises the discretionary spending caps for defense and nondefense spending, was passed 19-17 along mostly party lines – three Democrats voted against the bill. The bill would increase non-defense, discretionary spending caps to $631 billion for FY2020 and $646 billion for FY2021.
On April 3, the negotiated rulemaking committee reached consensus on proposals for three packages of regulations – specifically those on college accreditation, state approval of online colleges, religious institutions, competency-based education, and TEACH grants, among other issues. USED is now obligated to publish the agreed upon regulations and accept public comment.
On March 26, S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee on the President’s FY2020 budget request for USED. House Labor/HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) began the hearing by saying she believes the budget request is “cruel” and “reckless” given the Administration’s proposal to cut USED’s budget by nearly $9 billion, including a proposed $2 billion rescission from […]

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