Washington Wrap Up – August 1, 2017

Below is an abridged version of RAMC’s weekly Washington Wrap Up. Find out more about Wrap Up and other RAMC resources here.



59 Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to reverse ED’s decision to provide for a year’s delay on provisions that require gainful employment disclosure to individual students and in institutional promotional materials.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) released a statement in opposition to H.J. Res. 111, which would overturn the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule prohibiting forced arbitration clauses in many consumer contracts, including student loan contracts.

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and the Workforce held a hearing to explore earn-and-learn opportunities for workers through apprenticeship programs. Committee Republicans and Democrats released statements on their priorities.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing on the science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and computer science education fields and workforce.


The Senate Appropriations Committee released allocations for its 12 subcommittees for the drafting of fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations bills. The allocations provide $164.066 billion for the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee’s appropriations bill, which is a $3.04 billion increase compared to the FY2017 level. This increase is expected to offset smaller savings being generated from changes to mandatory spending provisions, resulting in largely the same level of funding for this Subcommittee for FY2018 as was agreed to for FY2017.

The Senate moved to debate the House-passed health care bill, the American Health Care Act, by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie. During the debate, the Senate failed to pass an amendment to adopt the Senate GOP’s health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Better Care Reconciliation Act, by a vote of 43-57. The Senate also failed to pass a proposal that would have repealed key elements of the ACA, with a two-year delay and without providing a replacement, by a vote of 45-55. Lastly, the Senate did not adopt an amendment deemed a “skinny” alternative, by a vote of 49-51. The “skinny” alternative would have repealed the individual and employer mandates in the ACA, prohibited certain funds from going to Planned Parenthood and allowed additional State waivers.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 by voice vote, which expands the GI bill to offer a lifetime window for college tuition assistance. This bill is similar to legislation the House passed last week.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies approved the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which allocates $53.4 billion for the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation and other agencies. The FY2018 funding level is $3.2 billion below the FY2017 enacted level. The full Senate Appropriations Committee also approved the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.


U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that he is seeking nominations for individuals to serve on the DOL’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. The Task Force was created in response to President Trump’s executive order seeking to expand apprenticeships. Nominations are due to DOL by August 8.

President Trump donated his second quarter salary, totaling $100,000, to ED to help fund a STEM-focused camp for students.

Education News Headlines

Letter Calls on Congress to Tie Pell Grant to Inflation [Inside Higher Ed]

Democrats unveil ‘Better Deal’ agenda as party tries to retake Trump’s mantle on jobs, economy [The Los Angeles Times]

Trump Struggles to Find a Leader for White House Initiative on Black Colleges [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Senate Appropriations Bill Cuts NSF Funding [Inside Higher Ed]

This is the way the college ‘bubble’ ends [The Atlantic]

Increasing share of good-paying jobs go to college graduates [Inside Higher Ed]

Trump administration is sitting on tens of thousands of student debt forgiveness claims [The Washington Post]

After Proposing $9 Billion Cut, Trump Making Salary Donation to Ed. Dept. [Education Week]

Betsy DeVos Is a K-12 Advocate. So Why All the Action in Higher Ed? [Education Week]

Committee News and Schedule for House and Senate Floor

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation
August 2: Executive Session: to consider several legislative measures and nominations including S. 754, Cyber Scholarship Opportunities Act of 2017
10:00 a.m. in 216 Hart

Legislative Movement in Congress

H.R.3390 — To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reduce the interest rate caps for Federal Direct student loans, to eliminate loan origination fees on all Federal Direct student loans, and to provide for refinancing of Federal Direct student loans and Federal family education loans.
Sponsor: Rep. Castor, Kathy [D-FL-14] (Introduced 07/25/2017) Cosponsors: (1)
Committees: House – Education and the Workforce
Latest Action: 07/25/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

S.1628 — A bill to revise counseling requirements for certain borrowers of student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA] (Introduced 07/25/2017) Cosponsors: (2)
Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action: 07/25/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Press Release: Grassley, Ernst, Franken Introduce Know Before you Owe Federal Student Loan Act of 2017

H.R.3463 — To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide greater support to students with dependents, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Clark, Katherine M. [D-MA-5] (Introduced 07/27/2017) Cosponsors: (1)
Committees: House – Education and the Workforce
Latest Action: 07/27/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Press Releases: Clark, Young Push for Child Care on College Campuses

H.R.3516 — To require the Internal Revenue Service to meet higher standards in security screening and to improve the process for obtaining return information and verification of nonfiling in connection with completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Sponsor: Rep. Veasey, Marc A. [D-TX-33] (Introduced 07/27/2017) Cosponsors: (8)
Committees: House – Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce
Latest Action: 07/27/2017 Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee
Press Release: Veasey Introduces Bill to Reduce Barriers For Students Applying to College

H.R.3372 — To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the restoration of entitlement to educational assistance and other relief for veterans affected by school closure of disapproval, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Messer, Luke [R-IN-6] (Introduced 07/24/2017) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: House – Veterans’ Affairs
Latest Action: 07/24/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Press Release: House Passes Rep. Messer’s Proposal to Help Vets Impacted by ITT Tech Closure

H.R.3492 — To amend title 38, United States Code, to expand educational assistance to veterans who pursue certain apprenticeship program, to establish a pilot program for veterans to pursue certification programs in computer numerically controlled machining, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Lipinski, Daniel [D-IL-3] (Introduced 07/27/2017) Cosponsors: (10)
Committees: House – Veterans’ Affairs
Latest Action: 07/27/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities

ED Comment Request: Office of Postsecondary Education Comments due August 13, 2017.

ETA Nomination Request: Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion. Nominations due August 08, 2017.