Washington Report: Cuts Proposed to U.S. Ed Dept Budget, College Transparency Act Reintroduced

By The New England Council

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Administration Releases 2020 Budget Proposal

The Trump administration proposed a budget which would cut billions of dollars from the Education Department’s budget. The request would cut discretionary funding for the department to $62 billion, an $8.5 billion or 12 percent decrease below enacted fiscal 2019 levels, including the cancellation of unobligated Pell grant funds. The department released a summary of the request. Overall, the Trump administration wants to eliminate 29 programs. The administration also said it was open to making universities and colleges partly responsible for the repayment of federal student loans, the WSJ reports. Education Dive reports details about the proposed budget cuts and reports on the focus on workforce. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the budget cuts won’t be approved by Congress, and Inside Higher Ed published a summary.


Lawmakers Reintroduce College Transparency Act

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate reintroduced legislation that would allow the federal government to produce more robust data about the outcomes of students at the nation’s colleges and universities. The bill would overturn a federal ban on collecting student level data, which has been in place since 2008. The legislation, the College Transparency Act, is expected to be part of Senate negotiations over reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The bill has 17 co-sponsors, Inside Higher Ed reports.

Democrats Introduce Resolution Against Arming Teachers

Democrats introduced a resolution to stop federal education funds from being used to arm teachers after the Trump administration last year said it wouldn’t stop states from doing so. Democrats unveiled a resolution on Thursday to “clarify” that the Department of Education can’t allow school districts to use federal funds to train or arm teachers with firearms. In August, DeVos said she would not stand in the way of states that want to use federal grants to purchase guns for schools, stressing it’s a decision for local officials to make. It is likely to face opposition in the Senate.

Bill Introduced to Limit Foreign Student Involvement in Academic Research

U.S. Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced legislation that would limit access to sensitive national security-related academic research in the United States. The Protect Our Universities Act of 2019 would establish a Department of Education-led interagency task force to identify and address current academic vulnerabilities, require a waiver from the Director of National Intelligence before students from specific countries are able to work on sensitive research projects, and would prohibit technology from Huawei, ZTE, and Kaspersky from being used on these projects. This bill comes amid reports that certain countries are stealing national security research from academic institutions.

Admissions Scandal Fallout Continues

The Justice Department made arrests and released 50 indictments in accusations of college admission cheating, Inside Higher Ed reports. Eight universities have been named by federal prosecutors’ in allegations of illegal admissions practices. The schools are now facing a class-action lawsuit brought by students. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of all individuals who paid a fee to apply to any of the eight universities between 2012 and 2018 and were rejected.

College Closure Fallout

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Wednesday that she won’t sue leadership over the sudden closure of Mount Ida College, reports the Associated Press.

Tuition Free College Updates

CNBC reports that tuition-free college is now up and running in 20 states, while Inside Higher Ed reports that more and more of these states are offering the program to undocumented students.


With the House and Senate out of session the week of March 18, the next edition of the NEC’s Weekly Washington Report will on April 1, 2019 (no edition on March 25).

For more information on the Council’s work on higher education issues, please contact Taylor Pichette.


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