Washington Wrap Up – December 12, 2017

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


The House and Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown and keep the government open until December 22.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up their Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill, the PROSPER Act, on Tuesday, December 12.


The full Senate passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” the Senate’s bill to revise the Federal tax code, on a near-party-line vote of 51-49. House and Senate leadership have named their conferees, and a meeting of the Conference Committee is possible for this week.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing for four of President Trump’s nominees for positions at the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Labor. Committee Republicans and Democrats released statements on their priorities.

HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced that he has named three new majority staff policy directors for the Committee: Grace Stuntz will serve as Health Policy Director, Bob Moran will serve as Education Policy Director and Andy Banducci will serve as Labor and Pensions Policy Director.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said bipartisan negotiations over a legislative fix for individuals participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are occurring.


Members of the negotiated rulemaking committee on the Gainful Employment regulations met for the first time last week. The next meeting of the Committee is February 5.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) stayed a preliminary injunction that blocked enforcement of President Trump’s travel ban pending the Trump Administration’s appeal, allowing the ban to go into full effect. Inside Higher Ed noted that President Trump’s ban imposes various entry restrictions or enhanced vetting requirements on nonimmigrant travelers, including visiting students and scholars, from the affected nations.

The Trump Administration filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging SCOTUS to rescind the authority of public-employee labor groups to collect service fees from workers in the bargaining unit who choose not to join.


Penn Hill Group plans to provide clients with summaries of the following events next week:

  • December 12: House Education and the Workforce Committee Markup: H.R. 4508, “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act”
  • December 13: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Executive Session: Nominations, including Kenneth Marcus to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Department of Education and Johnny Collett to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education

Education News Headlines
House Republicans May Be Backing Away From Taxing Grad-Student Tuition Waivers [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Perspective | FCC’s proposed Internet rules could raise college costs and hinder free exchange of ideas [The Washington Post]

Teachers Would Lose Loan Forgiveness Programs in Higher Education Bill [Education Week]

Trump Administration Backs Challenge to Public-Employee Union Service Fees [Education Week]

Focus Is Title IX in Hearing for OCR Nominee [Inside Higher Ed]

Uncertainty for grad students as tax bill goes to conference [Inside Higher Ed]

DeVry traded to private small company [Inside Higher Ed]

Rural America’s Neglected Higher-Education Problem [The Atlantic]

Passage of Senate Tax-Reform Bill Leaves Colleges Scrambling [The Chronicle of Higher Education]

Higher Ed. Overhaul Would Change FAFSA, Along With Teacher-Prep Oversight [Education Week]

Republican bill would reshape how colleges are held accountable [Inside Higher Ed]

HEA proposal allows campuses to delay reviews of sexual assaults [Inside Higher Ed]

Committee News and Schedule, Schedule for House and Senate Floor
House Committee on Appropriations 
Press Release: Appropriations Committee Welcomes New Staff Members

House Committee on the Budget
Budget Digest: The Higher Education Act Reauthorization

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
December 13: Subcommittee Hearing: “Head Health Challenge: Preventing Head Trauma from Football Field to Shop Floor to Battlefield”
Witnesses: Dr. Michael Fasolka, acting director, Material Measurement Lab, NIST; Mr. Scott A. Kebschull, vice president and technical director, Dynamic Research, Inc.; Dr. Alex O. Dehgan, chief executive officer and founder, Conservation X Labs; Mr. Shawn Springs, chief executive officer, Windpact
10:00 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building or webcast

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation
December 12: Subcommittee Hearing: “Digital Decision-Making: The Building Blocks of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence”
Witnesses: Dr. Cindy Bethel, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Mississippi State University; Mr. Daniel Castro, Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; Ms. Victoria Espinel, Chief Executive Officer, The Software Alliance; Dr. Edward Felten, Ph.D., Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Dr. Dario Gil, Ph.D., Vice President, IBM Research AI and IBM Q, IBM
10:00 a.m. in 253 Russell Senate Office Building or webcast

Senate Committee on Appropriations
Documents and webcast of yesterday’s Subcommittee Hearing: “Addressing the Opioid Crisis in America: Prevention, Treatment & Recovery”

U.S. Department of Labor and the Administration
White House
Press Release: Statement from the Press Secretary on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Department of Labor
Press Release: Statement By U.S. Secretary of Labor Acosta on Senate Passage of Tax Reform

Report: Beginning College Students Who Change Their Majors Within 3 Years of Enrollment

Legislative Movement in Congress

H.R.1 — Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Sponsor: Rep. Brady, Kevin [R-TX-8] (Introduced 11/02/2017) Cosponsors: (24)
Committees: House – Ways and Means Committee Reports: H. Rept. 115-409
Latest Action:  Senate – 12/07/2017 Senate appointed conferees. Hatch; Enzi; Murkowski; Cornyn; Thune; Portman; Scott; Toomey; Wyden; Sanders; Murray; Cantwell; Stabenow; Menendez; Carper.

H.J.Res.123 — Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2018, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Frelinghuysen, Rodney P. [R-NJ-11] (Introduced 12/04/2017) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: House – Appropriations
Latest Action:  House – 12/06/2017 Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 647 Reported to House. Provides for consideration of H.R. 477 and H.R. 3971 under structured rules with one hour of debate, one motion to recommit with or without instructions on each measure.

S.2201 — A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve college access and college completion for all students.
Sponsor: Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE] (Introduced 12/06/2017) Cosponsors: (0)
Committees: Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action:  Senate – 12/06/2017 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Press Release: Sens. Coons, Isakson introduce bipartisan legislation to increase college access and graduation rates

H.R.4508 — To support students in completing an affordable postsecondary education that will prepare them to enter the workforce with the skills they need for lifelong success.
Sponsor: Rep. Foxx, Virginia [R-NC-5] (Introduced 12/01/2017) Cosponsors: (1)
Committees: House – Education and the Workforce
Latest Action:  House – 12/01/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Federal Education Training and Grant Opportunities, Notices

ED Comment Request: College Affordability and Transparency Explanation Form (CATEF) 2018-2020. Comments due February 5, 2018.

ED Comment Request: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Regulatory Requirements. Comments due January 3, 2018.