DC Shuttle …
House Appropriations Committee Passes Education Funding Bill. The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing and adopted the fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill by a vote of 28 to 22. The legislation would cut nearly $2.4 billion from the Education Department’s budget, but did not include many of the cuts recommended by the administration. As passed, the bill provides the Department of Education with $66 billion in funding–a drop of $2.4 billion from current levels. The Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to approve the bill over the objections of Democrats, who blasted its cuts to surplus money in the Pell Grant program and to teacher training. The maximum total Pell Grant award would remain “as is” at $5,920 for the coming year. However, the bill removes $3.3 billion from Pell surplus, which drew an angry response from more than 100 House Democrats. The CBO estimated last month that the surplus stood at $8.5 billion. The vast majority of the $2.4 billion, or 3.5% reduction to Education Department spending in the bill would come from eliminating a $2 billion teacher-training program known as Title II, Part A. The Republican committee report says the program is duplicative and “has not demonstrated success in contributing to improved teacher quality.” The bill would send $35.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)–a $1.1 billion increase over funding provided in the current fiscal year and $8.6 billion more than requested by the administration. With the action by the Appropriations Committee, the bill may now be considered by the full House.
House Committee Passes Bill Extending Veterans Education Benefits. The House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing and passed a bill that would extend veterans education benefits from the current 15-year window through a veteran’s lifetime and address the impacts of school closures. The Forever GI bill (H.R. 3218) eliminates the 15-year window for use of benefits. The bill also ensures that veterans affected by school closures and post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients are eligible for GI benefits. One provision relates to benefits for veterans affected by the shutdowns of higher education schools, such as was the case with ITT Technical Institute in 2016, to ensure their credits are restored for GI eligibility, Stars and Stripes reports. The bill could be voted on this week by the full House.
CFPB Rule Allow Class Action Suits Against Lenders. A new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has gone into effect, allowing student borrowers to take private lenders to court more easily. The rule bans financial services contracts that keep consumers from filing class-action lawsuits against their financial providers, including private student loan lenders.
We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of July 24, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.