House to Vote on Package Boosting Free Community College, Higher Pell Grants, Pre-K, Childcare

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Hearings & Markups of Interest(Due to current limited access to the U.S. Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view these hearings via live stream.)

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on Back to School: Highlighting Best Practices for Safely Reopening Schools on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 10:15 a.m.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on School Reopening During COVID-19: Supporting Students, Educators, and Families on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 10 a.m. in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.

The U.S. House Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Protecting Students and Taxpayers: Improving the Closed School Discharge Process on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 10:15 a.m.

The U.S House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce will hold a hybrid legislative hearing that includes both in-person and remote attendance on “A Level Playing Field: College Athletes’ Rights To Their Name, Image, And Likeness” on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at 10:30 a.m.

Budget Reconciliation Proposal Headed to House Floor. The House is expected to vote this week on its budget package, including many education provisions. On Sept. 9, the Education and Labor Committee approved its portion of the budget reconciliation proposal. The budget proposal includes:

  • Universal Pre-K for 3- and 4-year olds
  • Childcare for working families
  • Tuition-free community college
  • Investments in HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs and ANNHIs
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $400
  • School infrastructure, student success grants and educator investments
  • Investments in primary care, including Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education
  • Workforce development and job training
  • Civilian Climate Corps funding
  • Research infrastructure, including for HBCUs, MSIs, HSIs, TCUs, and ANNHIs
  • National Science Foundation research and technology directorate.

Senate Confirms James Kvaal as Under Secretary of Education. The Senate approved James Kvall to be undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Education, a position that oversees higher education. Kvaal has experience serving under President Barack Obama in the Department of Education, where he focused on strengthening for-profit college regulations and increasing income-based repayment plans. He was most recently the president of The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had previously placed a hold on his confirmation to pressure the Biden administration into changing the federal student loan program. Warren stated that the administration recently vowed to make “substantial reforms” to the system and she removed her hold. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona release a statement saying “with this confirmation, the Biden administration and the American people gain a dedicated and distinguished public servant with strong expertise in higher education who will always put students first.” Read more about Kvaal’s career and nomination in Inside Higher Ed.

Senate HELP Holds Hearing on Apprenticeships Programs. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing looking at the success of apprenticeship training programs. The committee heard from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) who promoted his bill, the JOBS Act, which would help Americans gain access to short-term training programs. Learn more about the JOBS Act here and read the bill text here. The hearing also featured three expert witnesses: Noel Ginsburg, the CEO of CareerWise; Naarai Navarro, a business development representative from Pinnacol Insurance; and Leah Curry, the president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing. The committee heard different descriptions of apprenticeship programs and their impact on students and the economy.

Department of Education Begins Granting Funds to Schools Penalized for Implementing Covid Safety Measures. The Department of Education began dispersing funds under a program that would target schools being penalized for implementing Covid-19 safety measures. The department announced it would be launch a new grant program on Sept. 9 and schools have begun being awarded funds. The SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators) Program expects to use funds from Title IV, Part F, School Safety National Activities of the Every Student Succeeds Act. School districts will be able to apply for this grant with the intention of restoring the funding that schools are losing from their states. This grant is part of the Biden administration’s plan to keep schools safe and in-person this fall by making the resources needed for each school district attainable through funding.

Proposal for Title IX. The Department of Education is working on a regulatory proposal to streamline the process of how colleges should investigate sexual violence on campus. On Sept. 13, almost 60 Democrats in the House of Representatives sent a letter asking for the regulations to be released this October. According to Higher Ed Dive the letter echoed the request of multiple advocacy groups, who would like to see the process move more quickly. The Education Department has not commented.

RESCUE Plan Funds.  The Department of Education continues to approve states’ plans for using funds under the American RESCUE Plan. Currently five of the six New England states RESCUE plan funds have been approved:

We publish the DC Shuttle each week Congress is in session 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 Sept. 27, 2021. For more information, please visit:


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