E-Update for the Week of September 4, 2019
- On August 28, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced he will be retiring from the Senate at the end of 2019. Isakson cited his ongoing health challenges with Parkinson’s disease as the main reason for his early departure.
- On August 27, the White House announced the nomination of Eugene Scalia as DOL Secretary.
- On August 26, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 44 other Senators sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Patrick Pizzella regarding the Department’s proposed rule for establishing industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). Additionally, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) led a letter signed by 125 House Democrats urging the Department to reconsider the IRAPs program and to extend the public comment period by 60 days. Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter as well commending the IRAPs proposal but urged the Department to not exclude any industries or sectors in the program.
Both the House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both the House and the Senate will return to session on September 9.
Democrats decry Labor proposed rule on apprenticeships expansion: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and 44 other Senators sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Patrick Pizzella regarding the Department’s proposed rule for establishing industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). IRAPs would be less regulated compared to federally registered apprenticeship programs, as recognition would be created by Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) not DOL. The Senators argue that the proposed rule would create “duplicative, unnecessary, and lower-quality” programs. The Senators urged the Department to extend the public comment period on the proposed rule for additional 60 days. The comment period closed on August 26 and received over 61,000 comments. The letter is here. A press release is here. The proposed rule is here.
Relatedly, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter, along with 125 other House Democrats, urging DOL to extend the public comment period. House Democrats similarly denounced the rule arguing that it “undermines key standards and protections that are necessary to safeguard the welfare of apprenticeships.” The letter is here. A press release is here.
Additionally, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter commending DOL for the proposed rule but urged the Department to not exclude any industry or sector from the IRAP. “We know skills-based education can fix our nation’s growing skills gap by providing students and job seekers with the skills and hands-on experience they need to improve their own lives…We were disappointed to see the construction sector was specifically excluded from participating in IRAPs,” wrote the Ranking Member. Ranking Member Foxx and House Republicans did not request the 60-day extension of the public comment period. The letter is here. A press release is here.
August 26, 2019
Isakson, longtime HELP Committee member, to retire in December: Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced he will be retiring from the Senate at the end of 2019. Isakson cited his ongoing health challenges with Parkinson’s disease as the main reason for his early departure. After the Senator retires on December 31, Georgia governor Brian Kemp will appoint Isakson’s replacement, with a special election to be held in November 2020. Isakson is a member of the Senate HELP Committee and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety. A press release is here. A statement from HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is here.
August 28, 2019
Cummings to DHS acting secretary – staff needs ‘meaningful access’ to facilities: House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAlleenan after the Department blocked Committee staff from visiting detention facilities for migrant children. Committee staff requested that they be provided “meaningful access to all [Customs and Border Protection] and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] facilities” that the Committee staff have identified. A press release is here. The letter is here.
August 29, 2019
Scalia nominated as Labor secretary: The White House announced the nomination of Eugene Scalia as DOL Secretary. Scalia, the son of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is currently a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and is a labor, employment, and regulatory lawyer. The Senate HELP Committee has not yet announced a hearing on Scalia’s nomination. The announcement is here.
August 27, 2019
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On August 28, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Trends in Ratio of Pell Grant to Total Price of Attendance and Federal Loan Receipt.” The report examined Pell Grant awards in comparison to the total price of attendance for academic years 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Key findings of the report include identifying that Pell Grants covered 24 percent of the total price of attendance, on average; that Pell Grants covered more of the total price of attendance for students at public 2-year institutions compared to other institutions; and that Pell Grant recipients at private, non-profit 4-year institutions and private for-profit institutions had higher rates of federal loan receipt compared to public institutions. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- Both the House and Senate have adjourned for August recess. Both the House and the Senate will return to session on September 9.
- On September 8-12, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will hold its annual HBCU Week Conference. The conference, titled, “Enhancing HBCU Competitiveness: Student Achievement, Quality Partnerships, and Institutional Performance,” will be held in Washington, DC. Registration and more information are here.
- On September 10 at 10:00am, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing titled, “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable.” No witnesses have been announced. More information will be posted here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On September 9 at 3:00pm, the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) is holding an event titled, “How State Boards of Education Can Cultivate a Skilled, Stable Workforce in Early Education.” The webinar will discuss findings from the Early Childhood Workforce Index from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, which examines early childhood workforce policies and the economic status of the workforce nationally. More information and registration are here.
- On September 10 at 9:00am, New America is holding an event titled, “Varying Degrees: How Americans Perceive Higher Education in 2019.” The event will focus on New America’s recent survey results about the perception of higher education related to affordability, loans, and earnings. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include child development and early learning as community services under the Federal work-study program.
Sponsor: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX)
A bill titled the “Student and Taxpayer Protection Act” which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include requirements for programs of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.
Sponsor: Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
A bill titled the “Justice for Victims of School Shootings Act” which would amend title 18, United States Code, to provide for enhanced penalties for certain unlawful discharges of a firearm on or near schools, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX)
A bill titled the “America’s College Promise Act of 2019” which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish State and Indian tribe grants for community colleges and grants for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI)
A bill titled the “Universal Prekindergarten and Early Childhood Education Act of 2019” which would establish a grant program to assist States to establish or expand universal prekindergarten in public schools and public charter schools.
Sponsor: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC)