E-Update for the Week of November 18, 2019

Highlights:

On November 14, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a statement after receiving a number of documents from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) related to debt relief under the Borrower Defense rule. The statement indicated the Committee will review the documents and may invite USED Secretary Betsy DeVos to testify at a hearing to discuss the documents further.
On November 13, USED Secretary DeVos announced the appointment of new members to the National Assessment Governing Board. The seven appointees will serve from October 2019 through September 2023.
On November 12, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) met with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) to discuss the fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bills and how to move forward after the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on November 21. Following the meeting, the two appropriators announced they expect the next CR, which will be voted on the week of November 18, to last until December 20.

Budget and Appropriations:
Pelosi, Mnuchin to negotiate FY2020 topline spending levels: POLITICO reported that Speaker of the House Nancy […]

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E-Update for the Week of November 11, 2019

Highlights:

On November 8, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter to the Democratic caucus to inform them they will be voting, the week of November 18, on a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain government funding after the current CR expires on November 21.
On November 7, CQ reported that Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) will meet on Tuesday, November 12 to discuss the topline spending allocations for each of 12 fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills and the length of the next CR.
On November 6, POLITICO reported that USED sent the final rule regarding Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval. This marks the final step before the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

Budget and Appropriations:
House Majority Leader sets vote on next CR for week of Nov. 18: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sent a Dear Colleague Letter to […]

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E-Update for the Week of November 4, 2019

Highlights:

On October 31, the Senate rejected a procedural vote on a fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations minibus (a combination of two or more bills) with a 51-41 vote. For the minibus to have moved forward, 60 votes were required. The minibus included the appropriation bills for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (Labor/HHS), State-Foreign Operations, and Energy-Water.
On October 31, the House Education and Labor Committee favorably reported H.R.4674, the “College Affordability Act,” by a party-line vote of 28-22. The College Affordability Act is the Democratic proposal to comprehensively reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The report comes after a three-day markup of the bill which included consideration of over 50 amendments.
On October 31, USED Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the publication of the final accreditation and state authorization distance education regulations. According to the Department, the final regulations are intended to expand educational options for students, lower the cost of postsecondary education, and ensure occupationally-focused education aligns to current workforce needs.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA):
USED sends letter to State education chiefs on ESSA plan […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 28, 2019

Highlights:

On October 25, the House Education and Labor Committee issued a notice announcing a full Committee markup of H.R. 4674, the “College Affordability Act,” which is the House Democratic bill to comprehensively reauthorize The markup will occur on October 29 beginning at 10:15 am.
On October 24, a judge for the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California held USED Secretary DeVos in contempt of court due to the Department’s continued collection on student loans owed by former students of Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit operator that closed in 2015.
On October 22, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S.2667, a bill to simply and shorten the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would shorten the application from over 100 questions to between 18-30 questions, according to the Chairman.

Congress:
Senate:
Alexander, Jones introduce FAFSA simplification bill: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced S.2667, a bill to simply and shorten the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would shorten the application […]

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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 […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 14, 2019

Highlights:

On October 10, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced she will retire from Congress at the conclusion of her current term.
On October 10, USED Secretary DeVos announced a new initiative to promote the creation and expansion of high-quality public charter schools in Opportunity Zones.
On October 8, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate 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. The letter described the Senators’ frustrations and concerns with the Secretary’s management of the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program.

Congress:
The House and Senate will be on recess in observance of the Jewish holidays form September 30 through October 14. Both the House and Senate will return to session on October 15.
Senate:
Schumer, Murray concerned with DeVos management of temporary PSLF program: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate 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. The letter described […]

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E-Update for the Week of October 7, 2019

Highlights:

On October 4, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced new grantees for the Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) program. The program is designed to support school districts and universities in preparing and developing new and existing teachers and school leaders. According to the Department, 31 grants were awarded totaling $20.1 million, with most going directly to school districts.
On October 1, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published in the Federal Register a notice requesting public information on how to improve access to child care. ACF seeks information on identifying emerging and innovative practices to improve access, as well as what regulatory policies are causing costs to increase or limit choice to parents.
On September 30, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts rendered a decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. The district court rejected the claims of discrimination. Relatedly, on October 4, Students for Fair Admissions appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal Courts:
Harvard race-based admissions case ruled in University’s favor, decision appealed: The U.S. District Court […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 30, 2019

Highlights:

On September 26, the Senate voted on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to maintain government funding to avoid a shutdown before the current fiscal year (FY) funding expires on September 30. Relatedly, on September 27, President Donald Trump signed the short-term CR effectively extending federal funding until November 21.
On September 26, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the “Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019.” The bill is Chairman Alexander’s proposal to move forward a package of bipartisan higher education provisions. It is unclear as to how Chairman Alexander will attempt to move his bill.
On September 24, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos released non-regulatory guidance to state and local education agencies regarding Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) report cards. The guidance outlines and clarifies responsibilities that state educational agencies (SEAs) have when preparing report cards and what information should be included on their state ESSA report cards.

Budget and Appropriations:
Government shutdown avoided, current funding levels extended until Nov 21: The Senate voted on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 23, 2019

Highlights:

On September 19, the House voted on a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding at current fiscal year (FY) levels through November 21. The CR is intended to provide Congress additional time to complete appropriations bills for FY2020 as current funding is set to expire on September 30. The CR was passed by a 301-123 vote. It is expected the bill will be considered by the Senate this week.
On September 18, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) released draft text of the Subcommittee’s FY2020 appropriations bill. The draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS appropriations bill was released in advance of a full Senate vote on a minibus (a package of 3-5 bills). When the full Senate considered the minibus (which included the draft FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill), the package failed due to not gaining enough support. As a result, negotiations will continue in the Senate on a FY2020 Senate Labor/HHS bill.

On September 17, the House considered and approved by voice vote H.R.2486, the “FUTURE […]

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E-Update for the Week of September 17, 2019

Highlights:

On September 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a full committee markup, during which the Committee adopted top line spending levels (known as 302(b) allocations) for all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. The adoption, which was approved by a party line vote with all Committee Democrats voting against the proposal, included a spending level for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies (Labor/HHS) appropriations bill. Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) proposed a one percent increase for the Labor/HHS FY2020 appropriations bill compared to FY2019 enacted levels.
On September 12, USED announced it is no longer appealing a federal court decision that required the Department implement the Obama-era significant disproportionality rule. The rule requires that states and districts develop a uniform approach to monitor that students of color are not over or under-represented in special education programs. The Department had previously attempted to delay implementation of the rule, but attempts were blocked by a federal court ruling in March.
On September 6, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to U.S. Department of […]

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