Washington Wrap Up – December 5, 2017

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


House Education and the Workforce Committee Republican Members released their Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill, the PROSPER Act, as well as a summary and fact sheet on the bill.


The Senate Budget Committee reported out the Senate Finance Committee’s tax bill.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Alex Azar to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Committee Republicans and Democrats released statements on their priorities.

The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing to examine proposals to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), during which Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced that he has been working on new legislation to simplify the form down to 15-25 questions and discussed the idea of creating a separate application for Pell Grant awards.

HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement opposing the House Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans’ HEA reauthorization bill.

ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dr. A Wayne Johnson announced a Next Generation Financial Services Environment blueprint for his organization, which aims to modernize the FSA support of Federal student aid programs. The blueprint also calls for consolidating different ED-operated student aid websites, piloting the ability of students to access Pell and loan funds above tuition and fees through an ED-provided financial structure (as opposed to existing debit card arrangements with colleges and universities) and improving Federal student loan servicing.

ED unveiled a new mobile FAFSA application that would be available in the spring.

ED Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered remarks on ED’s direction and views on higher education policy, during which she called for a reauthorization of the HEA and stressed the importance of simplifying the administrative requirements and regulations pertaining to student aid programs.

News outlets have reported that ED is considering removing the word “systemic” from guidelines on how to probe civil rights violations, effectively limiting the scope of investigations at schools.

Richard Cordray resigned as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and appointed his Deputy Leandra English as Acting Director. President Trump subsequently appointed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney as Acting CFPB Director. English filed a lawsuit in Federal court in response to the Trump Administration’s appointment. The court ruled in favor of the Trump Administration’s appointment.

President Trump announced his intent to nominate Mark Schneider as Director of the Institute of Education Sciences in ED. Currently, Dr. Schneider is a vice president and an Institute Fellow at the American Institutes for Research and President of College Measures.

Negotiators charged with rewriting the Gainful Employment regulations are meeting for the first time this week.  


Penn Hill Group plans to provide clients with a summary of the following event next week:

  • December 5: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing: “Department of Education and Department of Labor Nominations”
    Witnesses: Kenneth Marcus, Of Washington, D.C., nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Department of Education; Johnny Collett, Of Georgetown, KY, nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education

Education News Headlines

Higher Ed Hates the GOP Tax Proposals. Here Are 3 Reasons Why. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

The GOP tax-reform bill cracks down on college endowments for the first time, and higher-education leaders are not happy. [The Atlantic]

Read House Republicans’ Bill That Would Bring Sweeping Changes to Higher Ed [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Opening more occupations to apprenticeships could mean more job opportunities [Inside Higher Ed]

How Yet Another Government Shutdown Showdown Could Impact Schools [Education Week]

How the Senate and House tax bills would hit higher education [Inside Higher Ed]

These Minority-Serving Institutions Could Lose Money Under the House Republicans’ New Plan [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Education Department Signals Possible Changes to Gainful-Employment Rule [Inside Higher Ed]

Betsy DeVos Sounds Off on Workforce Readiness, Alternatives to College [Education Week]

Colleges voice concern over planned net neutrality rollback [Inside Higher Ed]

What The Upheaval At A Federal Consumer Watchdog Could Mean For Students [National Public Radio]

Study: Loans Increased Community College Attainment [Inside Higher Ed]
National Bureau of Economic Research Study: “Student Loan Nudges: Experimental Evidence on Borrowing and Educational Attainment”

Servicers and states seek answer from DeVos on whether feds pre-empt state regulations [Inside Higher Ed]

Institutions grapple with accreditor’s changes to dual-credit instruction [Inside Higher Ed]

Committee News and Schedule, Schedule for House and Senate Floor
Senate Committee on the Budget
Press Release: Senate passes historic tax reform bill that lowers tax rates, puts more money in people’s pockets

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Press Release: Alexander: Time to Simplify the FAFSA

Press Release: Murray Highlights Need to Address Higher Education Challenges Through Comprehensive Reform to Best Help Today’s Students Open Doors of Opportunity

Press Release: Hospitals, Doctors, Patients Support HHS Secretary Nominee Alex Azar—“Uniquely Qualified,” “Steady Hand,” “Tested Leader,” “Superior Credentials”

Senate Committee on Appropriations
December 5: Subcommittee Hearing: “Addressing the Opioid Crisis in America: Prevention, Treatment & Recovery”
Witnesses: The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy, Former Congressman (D-RI), President’s Commission on Combatting Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis; Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary For Mental Health And Substance Use, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, National Institutes of Health; Dr. Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., Director, National Center For Injury Prevention And Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
10:00 a.m. in 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building Room or webcast

U.S. Department of Education and the Administration
Department of Education
ED Speech: Prepared Remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Federal Student Aid’s Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals

ED Press Release: U.S. Department of Education Announces Vision to Transform Federal Student Aid, Improve Customer Service

ED Press Release: Secretary DeVos Praises Senate Action on FAFSA Simplification

Department of Labor
DOL Press Release: U.S. Department of Labor Extends Transition Period for Fiduciary Rule Exemptions

DOL Press Release: Statement By U.S. Secretary of Labor Acosta On Tax Reform

Legislative Movement in Congress

H.R.4488 — To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide conditional protected status for certain individuals who came to the United States as children, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Pearce, Steven [R-NM-2] (Introduced 11/30/2017) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: House – Judiciary
Latest Action:  House – 11/30/2017 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Press Release: Pearce Introduces Legislation to Provide Certainty to DACA Recipients

S.2180 — A bill to establish additional protections and disclosures for students and co-signers with respect to student loans, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ] (Introduced 11/30/2017) Cosponsors: (3)
Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action:  Senate – 11/30/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.2169 — A bill to establish a new higher education data system to allow for more accurate, complete, and secure data on student retention, graduation, and earnings outcomes, at all levels of postsecondary enrollment, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR] (Introduced 11/29/2017) Cosponsors: (2)
Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action: Senate – 11/29/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Press Release: Wyden, Rubio, Warner Introduce “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act” to Empower Students as Consumers and Showcase New Privacy-Protecting Technology

Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities, Notices

ED Comment Request: E-Complaint Form. Comments due January 2, 2018.

ED Comment Request: Study of Higher Education Articulation Agreements Covering the Early Care and Education Workforce. Comments due January 2, 2018.

DOL Comment Request: Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Implementation Study. Comments due January 29, 2018.