E-Update for the Week of January 21, 2020
- On January 16, the House considered and passed H.J.Res.76, which is a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to express disapproval of the Borrower Defense rule issued by the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The resolution was passed along a mostly party line vote of 231-180. The resolution will move to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain at this time.
- On January 16, USED published in the Federal Register a proposed rule related to religious freedom and school prayer. The Department issued guidance on “constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression” in public elementary and secondary schools.
- On January 15, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent an invitation to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos to testify in front of the Committee on either March 24 or April 1. On either date the Secretary will testify on the Department’s FY2021 budget request.
Budget and Appropriations:
Nondefense spending bills could get proportional increases in FY21, says Hoyer: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) predicted how increases in spending caps for fiscal year (FY) 2021 could be divided between appropriations bills. According to a report from CQ, the majority leader indicated that all 12 appropriations bill could receive a proportional share of the additional $5 billion in available discretionary spending, compared to FY2020. This could mean, for example, that the appropriations bill for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) could receive a larger increase compared to other nondefense spending bills since the Labor/HHS appropriations bill is the largest spending bill of all nondefense spending. A CQ report is here.
January 13, 2020
House passes CRA on borrower defense bill, White House issues veto threat: The House considered and passed H.J.Res.76, which is a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to express disapproval of the Borrower Defense rule issued by the U.S. Department of Education (USED). The resolution was passed along a mostly party line vote of 231-180. Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the resolution. The resolution will move to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain at this time. No Republicans have publicly expressed support for the resolution and it will not be considered under after the Senate impeachment trial. Additionally, it is expected the President would veto the resolution if it were to pass the Senate. The roll call vote is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
January 16, 2020
Chairman Scott invites DeVos to testify on USED budget: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent an invitation to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos to testify in front of the Committee on either March 24 or April 1. On either date the Secretary will testify on the Department’s FY2021 budget request. The Department’s request is expected to be included with the President’s Budget Request, which is scheduled to be released on February 10.
January 15, 2020
House Education Committee advances homeless youth, pregnant worker bills: The House Education and Labor Committee favorably reported H.R.5191, the “Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act of 2019,” out of Committee. The bill was approved on a largely party line vote of 28-19, with one Republican voting with Democrats. “Without stable housing, young Americans cannot access the resources often needed to excel in school, avoid abuse and sexual exploitation, and live self-sufficient lives. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act of 2019 revives the federal government’s commitment to ending youth homelessness by empowering states to strengthen and expand services for young people,” stated Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA). During the markup of the bill, Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) expressed support for Congress addressing youth homeless but raised issue with not being able to genuinely participate in the drafting process. “Unfortunately, Committee Republicans were denied an opportunity to engage in bipartisan discussions to address the failings of the Democrat legislation before us today that reauthorizes these important programs,” stated the Ranking Member. The bill is here. A press release is here. The full opening statement from Ranking Member Foxx is here.
Additionally, the Committee also favorably reported H.R.2694, the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” out of Committee. The bill was approved on a party line vote of 29-17. According to the Committee, the bill “guarantees pregnant workers’ right to reasonable accommodations – such as extra bathroom breaks, relief from heavy lifting, and other minor job modifications that ensure they can continue working without jeopardizing their health or the health of their pregnancy.” The bill is here.
January 14, 2020
Hoyer outlines Democratic priorities for 2020: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was interviewed by CQ during which he outlined the House Democrats’ legislative priorities for 2020. The majority leader stated House Democrats would primarily focus on health care, infrastructure, climate change, and redistricting. In addition, Majority Leader Hoyer outlined the Democratic caucus would also address issues such as education, tax reform, and completing the appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2021 by the end of this fiscal year. The full interview is here.
January 13, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED publishes guidance on school prayer, new regulation on faith-based organizations in higher education: USED published in the Federal Register a proposed rule related to religious freedom and school prayer. The Department issued guidance on “constitutionally protected prayer and religious expression” in public elementary and secondary schools. The guidance would require that State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs) report instances in which a student is prohibited from praying in school and must certify that no LEA or school has a policy that prevents or denies participation in prayer. The guidance is here. A summary by the Department is here.
Additionally, the Department also published a notice of proposed rulemaking related to eligibility of faith-based entities to participate in the Department’s grant programs under Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The proposed rule would, according to the Department, “encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through the compliance with the First Amendment.” The proposed rule intends to ensure that institutions do not prevent or prohibit faith-based organizations from obtaining Department grants and that faith-based student organizations are provided the same rights, benefits, and privileges afforded to non-faith based student organizations. The notice is here. A summary by the Department is here. Remarks delivered by President Donald Trump on the actions are here.
January 16, 2020
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):
Child abuse, neglect rates increase for first since 2015: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released its annual report on child abuse and neglect data. The report summarizes FY2018 data reported by state child protective services (CPS) agencies. According to the report, for the first time since 2015 instances of child abuse and neglect have increased. Approximately 60.8 percent of children involved in a CPS investigation were victims of neglect; 10.7 percent were physically abused; 7 percent were sexually abused; and more than 15 percent were victims of multiple types of maltreatment. “All too often, we know that neglect is closely tied to poverty and therefore requires us to pinpoint our focus on strengthening communities to meet the basic needs of families to increase their capacity to care for their children in safe and loving homes. Addressing poverty and other root causes of neglect before they rise to the level of requiring a maltreatment report will help to prevent much of the trauma and disruption that children and families experience when difficulties go unresolved and lead to more intensive interventions,” stated Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the ACF. A press release from ACF is here.
January 15, 2020
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On January 14, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2019.” The report summarizes various surveys and datasets to present a national, and state-by-state, landscape of high school completion. Key findings of the report include identifying that about 4.7 percent of 15-24 year-olds dropped out of school before earning a credential; that Hispanic students had a higher rate of dropping out compared to White students, 6.5 percent and 3.9 percent respectively; and, that there was no measurable difference in dropout rates between Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and White students. The full study is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On January 15, the Education Trust published a report titled, “Hard Truths: Why Only Race-Conscious Policies Can Fix Racism in Higher Education.” The report provides recommendations for how institutions of higher education can respond to the historically racist policies that were used to exclude students of color. Key recommendations of the report include suggesting that institutions adopt a renewed commitment to affirmative action in higher education and should use holistic admissions; that institutions should provide more data that is disaggregated by race and ethnicity; and that federal funding should include state requirements that they work toward closing racial equity gaps. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- The House will be in recess in observance of Martin Luther King Day between January 20 and January 24. The House will return to session on January 27. The Senate will remain in session to proceed with the Impeachment Trial.
- On either March 24 or April 1, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to testify in front of the House Education and Labor Committee regarding the Department’s FY2021 budget request. The Department’s request is expected to be included with the President’s Budget Request, which is scheduled to be released on February 10.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On January 27 at 9:00am, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will hold an event titled, “Evidence in policymaking: How is the Evidence Act changing federal, state, and local policymaking?” The event will focus on how the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Making Act, signed into law at the end of the 115th Congress, has been implemented thus far. The event will feature former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). More information and registration are here.
- On January 28 at 2:00pm, the Alliance for Excellent Education will hold an event titled, “Building a Stronger Future for Evidence-Based Improvement in ESSA Implementation.” The event will focus on the challenges and opportunities for states and districts as they implement evidence-based interventions to support school improvement, as required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). More information and registration are here.
- On January 28 at 3:30pm, the Shanker Institute will hold an event titled, “‘Slaying Goliath’ Discussion and Reception with Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten.” The event will feature a conversation between Ravitch and Weingarten, focused on Ravitch’s newest book of the same title. More information and registration are here.
A bill to provide that for purposes of determining compliance with title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be determined on the basis of sex assigned at birth by a physician.
Sponsor: Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL)
A bill to amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to require the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out a grant program to make grants to eligible local educational agencies to carry out food waste reduction programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
A bill to promote State requirements for local educational agencies and public elementary and secondary schools relating to the prevention and treatment of concussions suffered by students.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)
A bill to provide for a Federal partnership to ensure educational equity and quality.
Sponsor: Rep. David Trone (D-MD)
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide classes on financial literacy to elementary and secondary students, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC)