DC Shuttle …
House Committee Passes Two Education Equity Bills. The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a markup and approved two bills designed to tackle racial segregation in America’s schools. Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) argued that these bills would help integrated schools lead to equitable funding and opportunities. The markup was scheduled one day before the 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that outlawed “separate but equal” schools. The “Strength in Diversity Act” (H.R. 2639) would extend incentives to voluntary community efforts to integrate schools. The second bill, the “Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act” H.R. 2574 would restore a private right of action to file disparate impact claims under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The measure would also create a Title VI monitor at the Education Department responsible for investigating complaints of racial discrimination.
Ed Dept Extends Student Loan Servicers’ Contracts. The U.S. Education Department extended the contracts of the four largest student loan servicers for six months, allowing the department more time to implement its overhaul of the system. The Education Department extended by six months the contracts of its largest student loan servicers: Navient, Nelnet, Great Lakes and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (FedLoan Servicing). The contracts were set to expire next month. The extension until Dec. 15 gives the department more time to award contracts to vendors for its new sweeping “Next Gen” plan. Under the department’s new plan, borrowers will manage their accounts and make payments on a centralized Education Department platform rather than with individual servicers. The contracts of other loan servicers do not expire until September. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan each signed legislation last week to regulate student loan companies operating in their respective states, joining a group of states passing laws in opposition to the administration’s plan.
Senators Introduce Student Debt Bill. U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN) reintroduced the Student Protection and Success Act, legislation to address student debt by increasing higher education institutions’ accountability for their students’ ability to repay their loans. This bipartisan bill would remove federal student loan eligibility from all colleges and universities where less than 15% of their students are able to begin repaying their loans within three years of graduating or leaving school. The bill would also require schools to pay a fee based on the total loan volume their students are not able to repay, and the bill would then use those funds to support schools that are better assisting low-income students.
Senate Committee Passes Legislation on STEM Education. The Senate Commerce Committee passed legislation by voice vote, S. 737, that would expand STEM education initiatives at the National Science Foundation for young children. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), would also offer new research grants to help boost girls’ participation in STEM education. Rosen said she hopes the bill comes to the Senate floor for a vote soon. Rosen and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) also introduced legislation that would award grants to workforce intermediaries to help boost cybersecurity apprenticeship programs. A companion bill will be introduced in the House with bipartisan support.
Retirement Savings Bill to Exclude 529 Provision. House leaders are readying a vote this week on retirement security legislation, after a provision expanding tax-advantaged accounts for education was removed. Some Republicans are now expected to vote against the bill, but a Senate companion bill doesn’t have the 529 provision either.
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 May 20, 2019. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.