DC Shuttle …
Appropriations Bill Cuts Ed Dept Funding. The House Appropriations Committee released a draft Labor-HHS-Education spending bill which would significantly decrease the U.S. Education Department’s budget. The bill would provide more money for charter schools but cut training programs, according to the House Appropriations Committee draft bill. The House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee voted along party-lines, 9-6, to send the bill to full committee. The Department of Education would be funded at $66 billion, a cut of $2.4 billion. Many of the cuts would be in teacher-training activities. The committee draft would provide an additional $28 million for a federal charter schools program that has support on both sides of the aisle. The program would receive $370 million in funding. Neither of two new school-choice plans proposed by the Education Department are part of the House appropriators’ draft proposal. The legislation maintains the Pell Grant program and the annual award of $5,920. The Pell program’s $8.5 billion surplus would be reduced by $3.3 billion, funds that are sent back to the federal coffers. The program had $1.3 billion removed from its surplus in the 2017 omnibus. Under the House proposal, current funding levels would be maintained for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. NIH would see a $1.1 billion increase next year, bringing its budget to around $35 billion. A markup is scheduled for Wednesday.
Veterans Education Bill Introduced in House. Lawmakers introduced the Veterans Educational Assistance Act. The plan would expand educational benefits for veterans under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, according to a summary of the legislation. The bipartisan legislation is expected to move quickly through the House over the next several weeks. The bill would remove for new enlistees the 15-year time limit on when recipients must use their GI Bill benefits. The bill combines several pieces of existing legislation, and includes other changes to expand what’s available under the benefit to certain groups of National Guard and Reserve troops and to the dependents of fallen troops. The House Veterans Affairs Committee chair was expected to hold a hearing on the bill Monday and a markup of the bill Wednesday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told the Associated Press he expected the House to pass the bill before leaving for the August recess.
DeVos Says Its Congress’ Job to Update Title IX to Address Gender Identity. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged Congress to update the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination to determine whether its protections extend to discrimination related to gender identity. She suggested that the Education Department would not implement guidance on the issue and would leave that to Congress. The Obama administration interpreted Title IX as protecting transgender students’ access to the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity. The Trump administration earlier this year rescinded Obama-era Education and Justice department guidance on the issue. DeVos told reporters that she “is not going to make laws from this department, it’s Congress’ job … It’s high time for Congress to look at a law that was made in 1972 and address these issues.” Inside Higher Ed reports.
Ed Dept to Overturn Campus Sexual Assault Guidance. DeVos told reporters she plans to overhaul Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault. The guidance, in place since 2011, tells colleges and universities they must combat sexual harassment, including sexual violence, under Title IX and threatens loss of federal funding to institutions that fail to do so. The guidance pushed a lower standard of proof in campus disciplinary hearings than is used in criminal trials, to make it easier to discipline abusers. DeVos’ comments came after a day of meetings with sexual assault survivors, college officials, and student who claim they have been falsely accused.
Lawmakers Write Letter on Pause in Defaulted Student Loan Services. A group of 44 Congressional Democrats sent a letter to DeVos expressing concern over an ongoing legal dispute with the department’s student loan debt-collection contracts. The letter was led by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). A federal judge overseeing the lawsuits over debt-collection contracts that were awarded last December has ordered the department to stop assigning defaulted loan accounts to any of its existing debt-collection firms while litigation is pending. The Education Department has fought the judge’s order. The Trump administration last month filed an emergency motion with a federal appeals court that seeks to lift the lower court’s order, which it says is severely interrupting the government’s ability to collect defaulted student loans.
States Sue Ed Dept Over Default Loan Forgiveness. Massachusetts led 18 states and the District of Columbia in filing a suit against the U.S. Education Department for halting Obama-era rules that would allow borrowers to have their federal student loans forgiven if their school defrauded them. The rule, which was supposed to go into effect July 1, was frozen by the department last month. The department is set to begin revising the rule. The New York Times reports.
Full-Day Kindergarten Funding in NH. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill funding full-day kindergarten, the Concord Monitor reports.
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 17, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.