E-Update for the Week of October 21, 2019

E-Update for the Week of October 21, 2019

Highlights:

  • On October 17, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on two minibus packages (or a combination of several appropriations bills) in an effort to begin consideration on the Senate floor of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. While negotiations are still ongoing regarding allocations for each of the FY2020 appropriations bills and whether the committee will allow consideration of certain policy riders as part of the appropriations process, it is unclear if the Senate will have the votes to move forward on either of the two bills.
  • On October 17, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away due to longstanding health issues. The Chairman was 68. A special election to fill Chairman Cummings set will be held in the coming months.
  • On October 15, House Education and Labor Committee Democrats released their proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The bill, H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” builds upon House Democrats’ previous HEA proposal from the 115th Congress – H.R.6543, the “Aim Higher Act.”

Budget and Appropriations:

McConnell tries to move FY2020 appropriations bills, again:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on two minibus packages (or a combination of several appropriations bills) in an effort to begin consideration on the Senate floor of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. Specifically, the two minibus packages would include (1) the Agriculture, Transportation/Housing, Military Construction, and Commerce/Justice/Science appropriations bills and (2) the Defense, Labor Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS), State/Foreign Operations, and Energy/Water appropriations bill. While negotiations are still ongoing regarding allocations for each of the FY2020 appropriations bills and whether the committee will allow consideration of certain policy riders as part of the appropriations process, it is unclear if the Senate will have the votes to move forward with an initial debate of the Agriculture, Transportation/Housing, Military Construction, and Commerce/Justice/Science Appropriations bills; however, a vote could be scheduled for as early as this week. It should be noted that the Senate on a vote earlier this fall failed to reach an agreement to begin consideration of appropriations bills and negotiations on an agreement have yet to progress significantly since that time. The motion to proceed is here.
October 17, 2019

Congress:

Senate: 

Murray calls on DeVos to better support parenting students in financial aid applications: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging the Secretary to implement recommendations made by a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report suggested the Department had the ability to provide additional support to student parents so they may consider the cost of child care when applying for federal financial aid. Further, the report found that most colleges and universities do not publish this information or make the information readily available to students. According to the letter sent by the Ranking Member, the Department has refused to provide more information to student parents and to provide guidance to colleges and institutions on making information available to student parents. “There are numerous barriers in place for student parents working hard to succeed in their educational pursuits while caring for their children, and the Department must do more to support, not hinder, their success,” wrote the Ranking Member. The letter is here. A press release is here.
October 14, 2019

House:

Cummings, 68, passes away after battle with health issues, civil rights community and Congress mourn loss: House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away due to longstanding health issues. The Chairman was 68. A special election to fill Chairman Cummings set will be held in the coming months. A statement by the late Congressman’s office is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH) is here. A presidential proclamation to recognize the Chairman is here.
October 17, 2019

Education panel explores USDA proposed SNAP rule, new Department estimate suggest close to 1 million children could lose access to school lunch benefits: The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “Examining the USDA’s Proposed Cuts to Free School Meals.” During the hearing Brandon Lipps, deputy under secretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services testified in front of the Subcommittee. According to a newly released estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as many as 982,000 children would no longer be directly certified for free school meals based on a USDA proposed rule on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The new estimate is significantly higher than a previously released estimate from the Department and Subcommittee Democrats, led by Subcommittee Chairwoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), focused on this impact. The opening statement by the Subcommittee Chairwoman is here. The opening statement from Subcommittee Ranking Member James Comer (R-KY) is here. A press release from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. The new analysis by USDA is here.

Relatedly, the House Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “Food and Nutrition Service: Policy and Program Overview.” Brandon Lipps testified in front of this Subcommittee also. The Subcommittee also explore USDA’s proposed rule on SNAP. The opening statement from Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) is here. A recording of the hearing is here.
October 16, 2019

House Democrats unveil HEA proposal, focus on affordability and accountability: House Education and Labor Committee Democrats released their proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The bill, H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” builds upon House Democrats’ previous HEA proposal from the 115th Congress – H.R.6543, the “Aim Higher Act.” This bill focuses on reinvesting in higher education by restoring state and federal investments, increasing quality through accountability measures, and expanding opportunities by investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) unveiled the proposal with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). A press release is here. A summary of the bill is here. A title-by-title of the bill is here. The bill text is here. A statement, in opposition to the bill, by Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
October 15, 2019

Administration:

U.S. Department of Education (USED):

Special education assistant secretary leaves Department: POLITICO reported that USED assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services Johnny Collett will be resigning from the Department on October 18. According to the Department, Collett will return to Kentucky. Mark Allan Schultz will serve as acting assistant secretary. A POLITICO article is here.
October 16, 2019

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):

Justice celebrates tenth anniversary of federal hate crimes law: The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law, which was enacted in 2009, expanded federal hate crimes to acts that are based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, disability, race, color, religion, or national origin. During the event, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband delivered remarks in which he stated, “Our recognition of the tenth anniversary of the Shepard-Byrd Act today also sends a message; namely, that the Department of Justice will not tolerate violence that targets individuals based on actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.” A press release by DOJ is here. Assistant Attorney General Dreiband’s remarks are here.
October 15, 2019

Publications (Congressional and Administration):

  • On October 11, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a report titled, “Annual Report of the CFPB Private Education Loan Ombudsman.” The report is a summary of complaints submitted to the Bureau related to private and federal student loans. Key findings of the report include identifying that between 2017-2019, the Bureau handled 20,600 complaints; that 6,700 complaints were in regard to private student loans and 13,900 were for federal student loans; and that there was a 50 percent reduction in private student loans complaints between the year 2017 and year 2018. The full report is here.

Publications (Outside Organizations):

  • On October 9, Child Trends published a report titled, “States’ Use of the Child Care and Development Block Grant [CCDBG] Funding Increase.” The report analyzed state funding after the over $2 billion increase in CCDBG funding in 2018. Key findings of the report include identifying that 44 states used or plan to use the additional funds to increase payment rates for providers; that 30 states used or plan to use the additional funds to serve additional children; and that 15 states used or plan to use additional funding to expand eligibility limits. The full report is here.

Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):

  • On October 21 at 1:00pm, USED Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education will hold an event titled, “Ability to Benefit: Improving Career Pathways Programs for Adult Students.” The webinar will focus on the Ability to Benefit (ATB) provisions of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and will provide additional information as to how ATB can be expanded at community colleges. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 24 at 9:00am, the House Education and Labor Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Labor Department’s Apprenticeship Program.” Witnesses have not yet been announced. More information will be posted here.

Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):

  • On October 21 at 8:30am, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) will hold an event titled, “Empowering Teacher Learning.” The event will focus on policy strategies can support well-designed and effective educator professional development. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 22 at 9:30am, the College Promise Campaign will hold an event titled, “A Conversation with Practitioners on Policy Design of College Promise for Economic Advancement.” The event will discuss lessons learned from early adopters of college promise programs and insights from on-the-ground practitioners charged with design and implementation of these initiatives. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 23 at 8:00am, Gallup, on behalf of the Lumina Foundation, will hold an event titled “Not Just a Job: New Evidence on the Quality of Work in the United States.” The event will discuss a recent Gallup report of the same title and what it means for workforce development policy in the United States. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 23 at 2:00pm, the College Board Access & Diversity Collaborative is holding an event titled, “Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard: Understanding What the Court Said and What It Means for Higher Education.” The webinar will address issues relevant to the federal court’s September 30 decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. The court’s 130-page decision in favor of Harvard applies federal nondiscrimination law to Harvard’s consideration of race and ethnicity in its admissions program designed to advance its diversity-related interests. This webinar will unpack that decision, with a focus on key findings and lessons for other postsecondary institutions to consider as they develop and refine diversity-related policies and practices. More information and registration are here.
  • On October 24 at 4:00pm, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will hold an event titled, “Findings from the 2019 Schooling in America Survey.” The event will feature a discussion of the survey and will discuss the implications it has on students, parents, public education supporters, reformers, policymakers, and K-12 education policy in America. More information and registration are here.

Legislation:

H.R.4673
A bill to amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to direct the Secretary to provide additional funds to States to establish and make disbursements from high cost funds.
Sponsor: Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA)

H.R.4674
A bill to amend and strengthen the Higher Education Act of 1965 to lower the cost of college for students and families, to hold colleges accountable for students’ success, and to give a new generation of students the opportunity to graduate on-time and transition to a successful career.
Sponsor: Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA)

H.R.4677
A bill to direct the Secretary of Education to carry out a program to recognize high schools and local educational agencies for expanding high-quality dual credit programs.
Sponsor: Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX)

H.R.4680
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to simplify the financial aid application process, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)

H.R.4684
A bill to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make breakfasts and lunches free for all children, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)

H.R.4706
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize competency-based education demonstration projects.
Sponsor: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO)

H.R.4724
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make for-profit institutions ineligible for Federal student aid and to protect the integrity of nonprofit institutions of higher education.
Sponsor: Rep. Pramilia Jayapal (D-WA)

S.2600
A bill to promote minimum State requirements for the prevention and treatment of concussions caused by participation in school sports, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)

S.2601
A bill to reauthorize the Helen Keller National Center for Youths and Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind.
Sponsor: Senator Doug Jones (D-AL)

S.2608
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize competency-based education demonstration projects.
Sponsor: Senator Margaret Wood (D-NH)

S.2609
A bill to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make breakfasts and lunches free for all children, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

S.2620
A bill to bolster the domestic workforce by encouraging communication between career and technical education institutions and emphasizing potential employment opportunities, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to treat certain costs relating to career and technical education as qualified higher education expenses for purposes of section 529 programs, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)

S.2640
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make for-profit institutions ineligible for Federal student aid and to protect the integrity of nonprofit institutions of higher education.
Sponsor: Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

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