DC Shuttle …
Students March to Address School Shootings. Thousands of students and teachers joined a National School Walkout on March 14 in Washington, D.C. and across the nation, to call for stricter gun-control measures. The actions came on the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hundreds of students gathered at the White House, bearing signs and chanting for tighter gun-control laws. They then walked to the U.S. Capitol, where they were greeted by members of Congress. The House voted 407 to 10 to pass the STOP School Violence Act (H.R. 4909) which will repurpose a program focused on school violence prevention for grants administered by the U.S. Department of Justice to fund training and other initiatives intended to enhance school safety, including physical improvements such as metal detectors, stronger locks and emergency notification and response technologies for schools to notify law enforcement of emergencies. President Donald Trump said in a statement he would sign the bill. The bill would authorize $75 million a year.
U.S. Senate to Take Up School Safety Bills After House Passes Legislation. Senators from both parties expressed their desire to quickly pass school safety legislation that has bipartisan support. Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said the chamber could consider a bill (S. 2135) he co-authored with Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) that would bolster enforcement of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS. Cornyn said it has 69 cosponsors. A bill (S. 2495) from committee member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that would provide federal grant funding for programs at schools and has 35 bipartisan cosponsors could also see a vote. The House passed its version of the bill (H.R. 4909) on a 407 to 10 vote. The White House announced that President Trump would sign the measure.
Justice Department Announces School Safety Funding. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department will funnel more grant money this year to local law enforcement agencies that want to hire officers for schools, part of a slate of other school safety and firearm initiatives. Sessions also ordered federal prosecutors to step up cases against people who lie in an attempt to get around the federal background check system to purchase a gun. And he announced plans to get federal agencies that are required to report individuals to that system to certify that they are doing so, and help state and local agencies provide more records on mental health and domestic violence information.
ED Moves to Break Up Budget Office. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is moving to break apart her agency’s central budget office despite objections from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). DeVos removed the department’s top budget official and at least one other budget division director from their posts, reassigning the employees. As part of an agency-wide government reorganization ordered by President Trump, DeVos wants to break up and decentralize all the Education Department’s budget functions. OMB officials have objected to breaking apart the department’s Budget Service and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in recent weeks told DeVos directly about his concerns with dismantling the budget office.
Attorneys General Oppose Student Loan Changes. A bipartisan group of 30 attorneys general urged Congress to reject language contained in a House bill that would block state efforts to regulate some student loan companies. A plan to overhaul the Higher Education Act would explicitly exempt companies collecting federal student loans from state regulations. The bill (H.R. 4508) was approved in committee last year and is awaiting action on the House floor. Inside Higher Ed has more.
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 March 19, 2018. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.