E-Update for December 19, 2017

E-Update for December 19, 2017


  • The current Continuing Resolution (CR) will expire on December 22. The House is expected to consider a CR as early as Wednesday, which will likely need to be amended to ensure Senate passage.
  • Today, the House passed the final tax reform bill by a vote of 227-203 with a vote in the Senate expected to follow.
  • On December 13, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported out by a party line vote of 23 to 17 H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act,” which is a comprehensive re-write of the Higher Education Act drafted by committee Republicans.

Higher Education

Higher Education PROSPER Act Reported out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce: On December 13, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported out by a party line vote of 23 to 17 H.R. 4508, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act,” which is a comprehensive re-write of the Higher Education Act drafted by committee Republicans. During the committee markup, the committee considered over 60 amendments, including rejecting an amendment to remove a ban on student level data by a vote of 17-21.  The bill is likely to move to the House floor in 2018.  Full list of outcomes on amendments considered by the committee is available here. Text of the amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 4508 adopted at committee is available here. Webcast of the markup and more information is available here.

Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Virginia Foxx (R-NC) opening statement at the markup is available here. Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) opening statement is available here. Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Patty Murray (D-WA) statement on passage of the bill is available here.
December 13, 2017

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

USED Posts ESSA State Plan Feedback for Several States: Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) posted feedback letters for several states on their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) consolidated state plans, including Maryland, Georgia, Utah, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico. These states were the first to receive feedback on their plans of the 34 states that submitted them to USED in the fall for review. Of the 16 states and the District of Columbia which submitted plans in the spring, Colorado is the only state that has yet to receive approval of its plan.

Budget & Appropriations

Governors and Representatives Send Letters to House and Senate Leadership on Extension of CHIP Funding: On December 12, 12 Governors sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to pass a bill to reauthorize the CHIP program as soon as possible. The CHIP program authorization expired on September 30. The governors noted that states have nearly exhausted funding under the program and some states have begun to inform families that their children’s coverage may end on January 31. The letter is available here. Days earlier on December 8, nearly 100 Congressional members, led by Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), André Carson (D-IN), and Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), had also sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging bipartisan cooperation in finding a way to responsibly extend funding for the CHIP program. The letter is available here.

Tax Reform

House Passes Final Tax Reform Bill: Today, the House passed the final tax reform bill by a vote of 227-203 with a vote in the Senate to follow. Overall, the bill will set seven tax brackets capped at 37%, nearly double the standard deduction, repeal the ObamaCare individual mandate, allow taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in either a combination of property and income taxes, or property and sales taxes, and increase the deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion. The Joint Explanatory Statement (which is a report explaining the provisions of the bill) can be accessed here.  The Conference Report (which is the text of the final tax reform bill) can be accessed here.  A policy highlights document created and circulated by the conference committee regarding the final tax reform bill can be found here.
December 19, 2017

  • Regarding major early childhood education provisions, the bill doubles the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 for each child under the age of 17 (same age limit as current law) and maintains the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.
  • Regarding major K-12 education provisions, the bill allows contributions to Section 529 plans to be newly used toward expenses of up to $10,000 for public, private, and religious K-12 education, as well as homeschooling, and continues a $250 deduction for teachers for out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Regarding major higher education provisions, the bill maintains current law deductions for student loan interest and qualified tuition and certain tax credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, and Hope Scholarship Credit. The bill will also continue to exclude from income qualified tuition reductions, such as for graduate students, provided by higher education institutions, interest from U.S. savings bonds that is used for higher education expenses, and employer-provided education assistance programs.  Additionally, the bill includes a new 1.4% excise tax on endowment investment income for certain private colleges and universities that have at least 500 tuition paying students and assets of at least $500,000 per full-time student.



Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Sends Letters to HHS and USED on Issuance of Guidance Documents: The House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) wrote to the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Secretary Eric Hagan and USED Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting a list of all guidance documents issued by their agencies since January 1, 2008.  The request the Chairman noted will allow the committee to better understand how and when federal agencies issue guidance documents. HHS letter here. USED letter here.
December 14, 2017


Letter Sent to HHS on Reported List of Prohibited Terms for FY2019 Budget: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member (D-WA) and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) wrote to HHS Acting Secretary Eric Hagan following reports that the Trump Administration is prohibiting the use of certain terms in the preparation of FY2019 HHS Budget Justification documents, including the budget for the Centers for Disease Control.  Specifically, reports cited that the following terms as prohibited: vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
December 18, 2017

Democratic Senators Send Letter to USED on Monitoring of Student Loan and Grant Programs: Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos and Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer Wayne Johnson urging USED to maintain enforcement and monitoring of colleges and universities that receive federal student aid. The letter was written in response to an announcement by USED in August 2017 that the agency will be making changes to how it holds colleges and universities accountable; however USED has yet to provide further details on such changes.
December 13, 2017



Action on USED Nominations Taken by Senate and White House: There has been movement on nominees for several USED positions in the past week. On December 13, the Senate HELP Committee reported out several USED nominees, including Brigadier General Mitchell Zais who is nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary; James Blew who is nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development; and Johnny Collett who is nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. All three nominations now head to the Senate floor. The panel did not take action on the nomination of Kenneth Marcus who is nominated to serve as USED’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. The press release is available here, and more information can be found here. On December 11, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Frank T. Brogan to be the Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education. Mr. Brogan has served as the chancellor of Pennsylvania’s public universities. He taught fifth grade in Martin County, Florida and also served as a dean of students, assistant principal, principal, and superintendent before being elected Florida’s Commissioner of Education in 1994 and then Lieutenant Governor of Florida in 1998 and 2002. More information is available here.

White House:

Trump Administration Releases 2018 Unified Agenda: The Trump administration released plans for updating its Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions for 2018.  The Unified Agenda is a semiannual compilation of information about regulations under development by federal agencies, including USED, which is published in the spring and fall. Regarding higher education regulations, USED plans to propose a new Title IX regulation governing campus sexual assault in March 2018, gainful employment regulation in June 2018, and borrower defense to repayment regulation (which sets rules for loan forgiveness of students misled or defrauded by their college or university) in May 2018. USED also will make technical changes to Year-Round Pell Grant regulations. Regarding K-12 education regulations, USED plans to delay for two years a regulation aimed at ensuring minority students are not disproportionally represented in special education. In response to the delay, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) issued a statement here. USED also plans to regulate on Title I of ESSA and to revise components of the grant competition for replication and expansion of charter management organization.
December 14, 2017

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

USED Secretary DeVos Hosts Rethink Schools Summits: USED hosted the first of two Rethink School Summits last week to bring together education leaders and innovators who are working to improve student achievement through student-centered models.  At the first summit, which focused on higher education, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Department is working on a framework for higher education, and attendees discussed competency-based education, job readiness, and how traditional colleges are responding in non-traditional ways. The second summit, which was focused on K-12 education, was held today.
December 14, 2017

OIG Releases Report on Borrower Defense to Repayment Process; Four Lawsuits Filed Against USED Secretary DeVos: On December 8, the USED Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report titled the “Federal Student Aid’s (FSA) Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Discharge Process,” which found that FSA did not have an adequate information system to manage borrower defense claim data. Specifically, it could not readily retrieve borrower defense claim outcomes from its current information system because data were not available for use without a labor-intensive, manual data retrieval process. Report here. On December 14, the attorneys general of Massachusetts, New York, Illinois and California filed lawsuits against USED Secretary DeVos over her agency’s failure to approve tens of thousands of pending fraud claims made by former students of for-profit colleges. Lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. here and California here. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra separately filed his own lawsuit against Secretary DeVos due to the delay in the processing of these claims.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

FCC Votes to End Net Neutrality Regulations: The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal the agency’s net neutrality regulations. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) statement is available here. Prior to the vote, 21 Senators sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on December 13 urging him to delay the vote “until you have fully examined the … impact on our nation’s students and their ability to learn.” More information and full text of the letter is available here. Also, on December 13, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) sent a letter, which was signed by over 100 House Republicans, to the FCC in support of the agency’s plan to repeal the regulations. The press release is available here and the letter here.
December 14, 2017

Upcoming Events:

  • On December 20, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing at 2:00 pm titled, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the U.S. Department of Education.” USED Secretary Betsy DeVos will testify at the hearing, marking her first time to appear before the committee. More information is available here.


  • On December 14, newly released Census data showed that the share of U.S. adults age 25 and older who have high school degrees has reached 90 percent, the highest recorded level. The data also showed an increase in high school completion among minority groups and a narrowing of achievement gaps. More information is available here.
  • On December 13, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a report titled, “Signature 14 Completing College: A National View of Student Completion Rates – Fall 2011 Cohort.” The report offers a look at the six-year outcomes for students who began postsecondary education in fall 2011. It looks at the various pathways students took toward degree completion, as well as the completion rates through June 2017 for the different groups of students who followed each pathway. The report is available here.
  • On December 13, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a report titled, “Developing the Financial Capability of America’s Young Workers,” which summarizes insights learned from its Youth Employment Success initiative.  In 2015, CFPB, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), worked with 23 municipal youth employment programs to help develop and deliver services such as financial literacy training and access to safe and affordable accounts for the first time. The report is available here.


A bill to provide consumer protections for students.
Sponsor:  Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)

Military and Veterans Education Protection Act
A bill to count revenues from military and veteran education programs toward the limit on Federal revenues that certain proprietary institutions of higher education are allowed to receive for purposes of section 487 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA)

A bill to expand school choice in the District of Columbia.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)

A bill to establish an Anti-Bullying Roundtable to study bullying in elementary and secondary schools in the United States, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY)

A bill to direct the Election Assistance Commission to carry out a pilot program under which the Commission shall provide funds to local educational agencies for initiatives to provide voter registration information to secondary school students in the 12th grade.
Sponsor: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Student Protection and Success Act
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for institutional ineligibility based on low cohort repayment rates and to require risk sharing payments of institutions of higher education.
Sponsor: Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for accreditation reform, to require institutions of higher education to publish information regarding student success, to provide for fiscal accountability, and to provide for school accountability for student loans.
Sponsor: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

A bill to establish best practices for teaching financial literacy, and to establish an annual estimate of student borrowing costs.
Sponsor: Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve college access and college completion for all students.
Sponsor: Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)

S.Res. 356
A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Members of Congress should substitute teach at least 1 day per year in a public school to gain firsthand knowledge on how to address the prevailing challenges facing education and how to remove obstacles to learning for students.
Sponsor: Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)

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