Reconciliation Package Likely to Include Early Childhood Provisions, Drop Free Community College

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. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will meet in Executive Session on Nominations on Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m.

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Office of Federal Student Aid  on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 10:15 a.m.

Reconciliation Bill Negotiations Continue. Negotiations on a reconciliation package continue, with the contents of a final package becoming more clear. Early childhood education provisions will be included in the legislation, including provisions to establish a universal prekindergarten program and a new national childcare program. A Pell Grant increase of $500 looks like it will be included. Free community college is now likely not to be included. Last week, President Joe Biden spoke about free community college, stating “I promise you—I guarantee you—we’re going to get free community college in the next several years and across the board.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Releases Draft Funding Language. The Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft of a bill on federal funding for higher education. The Senate’s draft is very similar to the House’s version, with some reductions to the levels of funding. The legislation for the 2022 fiscal year will allow for $26.4 billion to be used for federal student aid programs and $3.38 billion for higher education programs. This legislation will allow for a $400 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, an increase of $65 million in the Federal Work-Study program, a $5 million increase in the National Institutes of Health, and an additional $1.1 billion will be going to minority-serving colleges. Read more at Inside Higher Ed.

Mental Health Resources Released. The U.S. Department of Education released a document titled “Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Needs,” with resources aimed at helping promote mental health responses. The document highlights seven key challenges and provides real-life examples of situations and ways to respond within different settings. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “Our efforts as educators must go beyond literacy, math, history, science and other core subjects to include helping students to build the social, emotional and behavioral skills they will need to fully access and participate in learning and make the most of their potential and future opportunities.” Read more in the Department of Education news release.

FSA Approves Loan Servicing Contracts. The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) granted Maximus permission to assume the Navient loan contracts. The Department of Education said it “is confident that this is the best course of action for the 5.6 million federal student loan borrowers, since Maximus’ reputation is of high-quality service and stability.” This process will continue to be overseen by the FSA, and all information will be available on Read more at the U.S. Department of Education.

Biden’s Pick for Education Department Civil Rights Chief. Catherine E. Lhamon was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday, after a 50 to 50 tie which was broken by Vice President Kamala Harris. According to the New York Times, Lhamon faced push back from Republicans given her views on transgender students and the system for how schools should address sexual misconduct. Lhamon served in the same position during the Obama administration. Secretary Cardona stated: “I am thrilled that Catherine will reprise her role at the U.S. Department of Education as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights. In this role, she will lead the department’s vital efforts to ensure our schools and college campuses are free from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability and to protect all students’ civil rights in education. Catherine is one of the strongest civil rights leaders in America and has a robust record of fighting for communities that are historically and presently underserved. Catherine will continue fighting for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students, and I cannot wait for her to join the team.” Read more about her confirmation at the U.S. Department of Education, Education Week, and Axios.

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 Oct. 25, 2021. For more information, please visit:


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