Republican Lawmakers Cool on Trump Cuts

DC Shuttle …

Lawmakers Push Back on Ed Dept, NIH Cuts in Budget Proposal. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), chair of the Appropriations subcommittee that handles funding for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, pushed back against the Trump administration’s call to cut nearly $18 billion in domestic programs in fiscal 2017, including $3 billion at the Education Department. Blunt said leadership plans to keep the same spending levels. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who chairs the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee, similarly opposed cuts to National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. Trump’s proposed plan calls for a $5.8 billion cut from NIH, about a 20% decrease. Trump budget cuts could hit research universities hard, The Washington Post reports.

President Signs Law Reversing Teacher-Prep Regulations. President Donald Trump signed into law legislation overturning a regulation put in place by the Obama administration that would have rated the effectiveness teacher-training programs. It also prevents the U.S. Education Department from creating a substantially similar rule or regulation in the future. The rules, released by the Department of Education in October, would have required states to annually evaluate and publicly report the effectiveness of teacher-preparation programs at higher education institutions. The Senate passed a resolution (HJ Res 58) in early March.

Lawmakers Plan to Introduce Perkins CTE Bill. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate hopes to move legislation that aligns job-training programs with the needs of employers. Legislation to update a career and technical education law will be introduced this spring by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.). In the Senate, Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) is working on a bill that Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has called a priority. The law expired in 2013 but has remained funded.

Ed Dept. and IRS Say FAFSA Tool will be Offline Until Fall. The Education Department and Internal Revenue Service announced in a statement that the online tool that helps students apply for federal financial aid, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, will remain unavailable until later this year. The tool allows students to automatically input their income information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The tool was suspended over concerns that identity thieves could use it to access student tax information and the agencies said they are working to improve security protections. The announcement warned that the tool would be down “until the start of the next FAFSA season,” which begins on Oct. 1. The leaders of the Congressional education committees and the House Oversight Committee sent letters to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos demanding more information about the problems. Education Department officials briefed some Congressional staffers this week about the problems, but the committees are still waiting for more information from the department, the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports.  The Republican and Democratic leadership of the Congressional education committees, Sens. Alexander and Patty Murray (D-WA) and Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), and a bipartisan group of 39 other lawmakers sent a letter urging DeVos to take steps to alleviate the problems.

Lawmakers Concerned about Cybersecurity at Ed Dept. The House Oversight Committee sent a letter to DeVos that questions the Education Department’s overall handling of cybersecurity issues. The letter, signed by Republicans and Democrats on the panel, says that “cybersecurity at the department is far short of where it should be,” citing Government Accountability Office and Inspector General reviews that found gaps in the agency’s information technology security. The lawmakers asked the department to provide a plan for addressing the cybersecurity issues and a range of related documents by April 13.

DeVos Meets with Brazil’s Education Minister. DeVos met with José Mendonça Bezerra Filho, the education minister of Brazil. DeVos talked to the minister about “several topics of mutual interest, including career and technical education, higher education exchanges, and education reform ideas for their respective countries,” the Education Department said in a statement.

Quality of American Education. DeVos said America’s education system has fallen behind other countries and “can’t do much worse.” DeVos noted that U.S. scores on the Program for International Student Assessment are suffering and that scores have stagnated on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The Census Bureau released a report saying that Americans had reached the highest level of education attainment since it began collecting educational attainment in 1940. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen calls for better public education, workforce development programs reports The Wall Street Journal.

Ed Dept. Cancels Diversity Grant Program. The Education Department has cancelled a $12 million Obama-era grant program meant to help school districts boost socioeconomic diversity, the Washington Post reports.

Report on Funding for Accreditors. A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that many college accreditors lack the budget and staffing to properly oversee colleges and universities.

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 April 3, 2017. For more information, please visit:



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