Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 23, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

BUDGET

The House Budget Committee passed the FY2016 Budget Resolution. Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) made a statement highlighting the passage and said he plans to bring the budget to the Floor for full House consideration next week.  Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) released a statement in opposition to the Committee approved Resolution.

The Senate Budget Committee passed the Senate Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2016. Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a statement highlighting this as an important first step and stating he looks forward to this resolution being considered by the full Senate next week. Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-VT) issued a press release in response to the Committee passed resolution.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a proposed priority for the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) that implements language in the conference report accompanying the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill on high school reform and redesign.

ED announced six grant awards through the Charter Schools Program’s National Leadership Activities Program. The Department stated these grants, totaling $4.1 million, will strengthen charter schools and charter school authorizers while improving these schools’ capacity to serve English learners and students with disabilities.

ED’s National Center for Education Statistics released new data that indicates the graduation rates for black and Hispanic students increased by nearly four percentage points from 2011 to 2013, decreasing the gap in graduation rates between minority and white students.

Politico Pro reported that while on a panel at the National Lieutenant Governors Association’s 2015 federal-state relations meeting, Deputy Under Secretary of Education Jamienne Studley said the first full version of the federal college ratings system will be released by August 2015.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 16, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

HOUSE

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee hearing on March 17 on the budget for the Department of Labor. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee hearing on March 17 on the budget for the National Science Foundation. National Science Foundation Director France Cordova will testify.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a subcommittee oversight hearing on March 18 on the achievement gap in higher education. Gail Mellow, President of La Guardia Community College;  Aaron Thompson, Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education; Benjamin L. Castleman, Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia; Carol L. Fischer, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Iowa; and Brian K. Fitzgerald, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer of the Business-Higher Education Forum will testify.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a subcommittee hearing on March 17 on higher education opportunities for veterans. Witnesses for this hearing have not yet been announced.

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a subcommittee hearing on March 17 on strengthening the higher education system. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., President of Purdue University; Dr. Christine M. Keller, Vice President of Research and Policy Analysis and Executive Director for the Voluntary System of Accountability and Student Achievement Measure at the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities; David A. Bergeron, Vice President of Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress; and Michael J. Bennett, Associate Vice President of Financial Aid Services at St. Petersburg College will testify.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a committee hearing on March 18 on the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Proposal for the Department of Labor. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify.

The House was in recess last week.

SENATE

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement on March 9 on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. They stated they have made significant progress in their negotiations and aim to consider markup of legislation during the week of April 13.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a committee hearing on March 18 on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission. Federal Communications Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, Michael O’Rielly, Ajit Pai, Jessica Rosenworcel and Tom Wheeler will testify.

ADMINISTRATION

President Obama launched a TechHire Initiative that will provide $100 million in competitive grants to joint initiatives by employers, training institutions and local governments that train and hire low-skilled workers for jobs in the technology field.

President Obama announced a Student Aid Bill of Rights with a Presidential Memorandum that is aimed at providing additional protections for borrowers with Federal student loans. President Obama also directed the US Department of Education (ED) to create a new online feedback system for borrowers to file loan-related complaints. The Administration also released state-by-state data on the number of federal student borrowers and the amount of outstanding loan balances.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the nationwide expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative. This will provide school nutrition personnel nationally with technical assistance and peer-to-peer mentoring.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 2, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

HOUSE

The U.S. House of Representatives began consideration of H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), on Thursday last week, and continued considering amendments to the bill on Friday. Forty-three amendments were offered to the bill: of those, 25 were adopted, 5 failed, 3 were withdrawn, and recorded votes on 10 amendments were postponed. According to a Whip notice sent on Friday afternoon, the House postponed further consideration of H.R. 5 due to ongoing consideration of Department of Homeland Security appropriations legislation. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 5, which states that White House senior advisors recommend vetoing the bill.

The House passed H.R. 529 by a vote of 401-20; the bill makes changes to 529 college savings plans, including allowing computers as a qualified expense, and removing any penalty for re-depositing funds if a student drops out.

The House passed H.R. 1020, the STEM Education Act of 2015, by a vote of 412-8. The bill redefines STEM education to include computer science education and maintains informal STEM education programs at the National Science Foundation.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan will testify in front of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee on March 4 on the budget for the U.S. Department of Education.

SENATE

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on February 24 to discuss the findings of the task force on higher education de-regulation, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that he intends to pass a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) this year, and will hold further committee hearings on the topic beginning in April.

ADMINISTRATION

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) has requested comments (due on March 9) on their draft NACIQI policy recommendations report. They will also hold a virtual meeting on March 23, 2015 to discuss the report.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – February 23, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

HOUSE

The House Rules Committee announced a process to consider amendments for when the House considers H.R. 5, the Student Success Act this week. The Rules Committee has established a deadline of 3 p.m. on Monday, February 23 for the submission of amendments. The bill, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on February 11.

The House Committee on Appropriations will hold a subcommittee hearing on February 25 on the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell will testify.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a subcommittee hearing on February 26 on the budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NSF Director France Cordova, National Science Board chairman Daniel Arvizu, and NIST Acting Director Willie E. May will testify.

The House was in recess last week.

SENATE

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a hearing on February 24 to discuss the findings of the task force on higher education de-regulation formed by Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). William Kirwan, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, and Nicholas Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University, will testify at the hearing as the co-chairs of the task force

The Senate was in recess last week.

ADMINISTRATION

The Department of Education released proposed priorities for the next round of the First in the World Grant program. The First in the World program gives grants to support innovation toward college affordability and completion. The Department is seeking comments on the proposed priorities by March 25, 2015.

The Domestic Policy Council at the White House released a report entitled, “Investing in Our Future: Helping Teachers and Schools Prepare Our Children for College and Careers,” on H.R. 5, the ESEA reauthorization bill that passed the House education committee last week. It specifically addresses the funding levels in the bill, and the bill’s changes to Title I funding. House education committee Chairman John Kline’s (R-MN) response to the report is here.

President Obama also addressed issues around H.R. 5 and ESEA reauthorization in general in his weekly address.

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Alex Nock Joins Ownership Team at Penn Hill Group

Alex-Nock-lgFebruary 12, 2015 — Penn Hill Group is pleased to announce that Alex Nock has joined Danica Petroshius, D’Arcy Philps and Vic Klatt as a part of the firm’s bipartisan ownership team.

Nock has served as Executive Vice President at Penn Hill Group since its opening in 2011. His experience and success in serving clients and advancing policy ideas made this an obvious next step for Penn Hill Group. The firm continues to grow and expand in part due to Nock’s work on behalf of numerous clients.

Penn Hill Group, Washington’s premier bipartisan education policy firm, has unmatched experience working on both sides of the aisle as senior Administration officials, congressional committee staffers, and high-level advisers to senators and members of Congress.

Nock brings more than 20 years of experience in federal education, disability, labor and health policy to Penn Hill Group. During his time in Washington, DC, Nock has been a part of every major piece of federal education and disability policy legislation.

Prior to his position with Penn Hill Group, Nock served as the Democratic deputy staff director for the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor.

Nock led numerous reauthorizations while working on Capitol Hill, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the Higher Education Act, and the Head Start Act. He was one of the lead staff members responsible for the No Child Left Behind Act. Nock has also played key roles in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: February 2, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

SENATE

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a roundtable-style hearing on February 3 titled, “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students.” This hearing is the third hearing the Committee has held this month on reauthorizing No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Previous hearings covered teacher and school leader issues, and testing and accountability issues. Witnesses for the roundtable are: Dr. Robert Balfanz, Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University; Ken Bradford, Assistant Superintendent, Louisiana Department of Education; Josh Davis, Vice President, Delta Health Alliance; Katie Duffy, CEO, Democracy Prep Public Schools; Dr. Susan Kessler, Executive Principal, Hunters Lane High School; Dr. James McIntyre, Jr., Superintendent, Knox County Schools; and Henriette Taylor, Community School Coordinator, The Historic Samuel Coleride-Taylor Elementary School.

The Senate HELP Committee held an Executive Session on January 28 to adopt committee rules and a committee funding resolution, and to mark up two bills: S. 192, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, and S. 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA). The Committee approved both bills by voice votes, as well as the four nominations: Allison Beck, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; Adri Jayaratne, Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor; and Mary Lucille Jordan and Michael Young as members of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

Also during the Executive Session, Chairman Alexander announced the Chairs and Ranking Members of the subcommittees: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will chair the Subcommittee on Children and Families, and Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) will serve as Ranking Member. Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) will chair the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, and Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) will serve as Ranking Member. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will chair the Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) will serve as Ranking Member.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced the subcommittee rosters for the committee.

HOUSE

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing on February 4 on “Expanding Opportunity in America’s Schools and Workplaces.” Witnesses have not yet been announced.

Education Week reported that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has indicated that the House is scheduled to vote on a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act the week of February 24. Education committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) made an earlier statement that the committee will mark up a bill in the coming weeks.

Republicans and Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee announced leadership and member assignments for the Subcommittees. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) is Chair of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) is the Ranking Member. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) will chair the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) is the Ranking Member. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) is the Ranking Member. Rep. David Roe (R-TN) is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions and Rep. Jared Polis is the Ranking Member.

ADMINISTRATION

The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2016 is expected to be released on February 2. President Obama announced that his budget proposal will call for an end to sequestration.

President Obama’s budget may propose that earnings made on new contributions to 529 college savings plans would be taxed upon withdrawal, but the White House stated this week that they will not be advocating for the change as originally proposed.​

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Job Opportunity: Penn Hill Group Seeks Associate

Penn Hill Group seeks an Associate who is detail-oriented and has strong writing, research and communications skills to manage multiple projects for clients. The ideal candidate has strong interest in education policy and thrives in a fast-paced, team environment.

To Apply: Please combine a cover letter, resume and writing sample into a single file and send a pdf via email to jobs@pennhillgroup.com. No phone calls please.  Application deadline is 5 pm ET on Thursday, February 5.

Penn Hill Group Overview

Penn Hill Group is a bipartisan government relations firm located in Washington, DC. With decades of Congressional, Administration and private sector experience, the members of Penn Hill Group provide clients with cutting-edge advocacy, policy development and analysis, communications, research, and strategic consulting support. Penn Hill Group specializes in education and workforce issues, including early childhood education, K-12 education, special education, career and technical education, higher education, and other critical issues ranging from juvenile justice to library and museum policy.

Associate Position Overview

The Associate will be responsible for coordinating and managing projects for a portfolio of clients. In addition, the Associate will regularly cover events, including legislative hearings, produce research and event memos, and contribute to Penn Hill Group’s client communications efforts. The Associate will work closely with all members of our team and must have exemplary interpersonal communication skills and an ability to manage multiple projects with tight deadlines.

Responsibilities

  • Support for staff and principals across the firm on timely, high-quality project implementation and deliverables
  • Project and client support including research, writing and coordination
  • Attendance at briefings, hearings, and other key meetings; documenting and summarizing meeting content
  • Production of memos, papers and briefs
  • Event and meeting planning and logistics support including scheduling Congressional meetings
  • Overall support for office operations and management

Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Exceptional organizational, communications, analytic and personal skills
  • Interest in education policy
  • Exceptional Internet research skills
  • Exceptional writing and copy editing skills
  • Experience working in an office
  • Capitol Hill or Administration experience a plus
  • Skilled at Microsoft Office programs; other programs a plus

This is a full-time position with competitive benefits and is available immediately.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: January 26, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group

HOUSE

House education committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) stated at an AEI event that he hopes to have a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on the House floor by March of this year, and that the ESEA reauthorization bill passed by the House in the 113th Congress, the Student Success Act, will be a starting point. Chairman Kline added that the committee is also working on a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which he would like to move out of the committee after an ESEA reauthorization, and expects to move on a reauthorization of the Career and Technical Education Act and Education Sciences Reform Act this Congress as well.

Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce released a white paper outlining their priorities for overhauling the Head Start Act. The committee also asked for public feedback on the Head Start program by June 1, 2015. Comments can be submitted to headstart.reform@mail.house.gov.

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced the committee’s recommendations to Democratic leadership for membership and leadership of the subcommittees in the 114th Congress; Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) was recommended to continue as Ranking Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education subcommittee, and other subcommittee members would be: Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA).

SENATE

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on January 21 on “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.” The Committee will continue this series of hearings with a hearing on January 27 on “Fixing No Child Left Behind: Supporting Teachers and School Leaders.” Witnesses for this hearing will be: Dan Goldhaber, Director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research; Terry Holliday, Kentucky Commissioner of Education; Saul Hinojosa, Superintendent of Schools in Somerset Independent School District; Rachelle Moore, first grade teacher at Madrona K-8 school in Washington; and Christine Handy-Collins, Principal of Gaithersburg High School in Maryland. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) also stated that he hopes to hold one additional hearing on NCLB, in a roundtable format.

During the NCLB hearing, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated his intention of holding a hearing in February to discuss the findings of the task force on higher education deregulation that was formed by Chairman Alexander and Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) last year.

The Senate HELP Committee will hold an Executive Session on January 28 to adopt committee rules and a committee funding resolution, and to mark up two bills: S. 192, the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015, and S.___, the Strengthening Education through Research Act (SETRA). A similar SETRA bill, which reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act, passed the Senate committee late last year but did not make it to the Senate floor.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) announced the subcommittee chairs for the 114th Congress. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) will chair the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

ADMINISTRATION

President Obama gave his State of the Union address and called for a number of education-related measures including increased support for childcare, a proposal to cover the tuition costs of two years of community college, improvements and changes to education-related tax provisions, and legislation to protect students’ online information. To help pay for these (and other) initiatives highlighted in the State of the Union, President Obama is proposing a number of tax-related changes that the White House estimates would raise $320 billion in revenue over 10 years.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — January 12, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group:

HOUSE

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was elected to a third term as Speaker of the House, by a vote of 216-192.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced recommendations for committee assignments – Democrats will vote on the nominations this week. New members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee include Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-NY), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA).

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, by a vote of 252-172. The bill repeals the 30-hour definition of full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act, and replaces it with a 40-hour definition. The White House has threatened to veto the bill, and while the bill passed, the vote was short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a Presidential veto.

SENATE

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was elected by Republicans to serve as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Sen. Alexander served as Ranking Member in the previous Congress.

Education Week reported that the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) testing issues on January 20.

HELP Committee Chairman Alexander, along with HELP Committee members Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), introduced the Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency (FAST) Act. The bill seeks to simplify the federal student aid process by eliminating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and replacing it with two questions to determine eligibility. The bill also allows for year-round Pell Grants, increases communications to borrowers on what to expect during repayment of their loans, and simplifies repayment options.

Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced Ranking Members for the subcommittees. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will be the Ranking Member on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

The Senate selected Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to serve as Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Chairman Thune also announced the subcommittee chairs for the committee and Sen. Ted Cruz will chair the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.

ADMINISTRATION

President Obama announced a proposal to offer students tuition-free community college. The America’s College Promise proposal would offer eligible students (those attending at least half time and maintaining a 2.5 GPA) two free years of tuition. Federal funds would cover three quarters of the cost, and states would need to cover the rest of the cost of tuition. He stated that his announcement is a preview of his State of the Union address. The President also announced a proposal to fund 100 technical training centers through partnerships between employers and community colleges or other training organizations.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice released joint guidance for states and school districts on ensuring that English learners have equal access to high-quality education.

The Government Accountability Office released a report in late December that looked at states that are receiving federal funds to develop Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, and the challenges states are facing in reliably matching data between education sectors and workforce sectors.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a notice that outlines its plan to regulate around implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that was enacted last summer. The notice states that DOL and ED will publish five notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) in Spring 2015 (despite WIOA requiring DOL and ED to publish these rules later this month), with the intention of publishing final regulations in early 2016. The five NPRMs will address: jointly administered activities including state plans, performance, and the one-stop system; Title I and Title III issues; Title II Adult Education and Literacy; and two on Title IV amendments to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made by WIOA. The Employment and Training Administration will also publish operating guidance in Spring 2015 to support implementation for certain provisions that go into effect July 1, 2015.

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 20 at 9:00 p.m. Follow Penn Hill Group on Twitter for live updates from the address.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – December 22, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:

BUDGET

Congress approved and the President signed into law an FY2015 “cromnibus” appropriations bill – the House passed the bill by a vote of 219—206, and the Senate passed it by a vote of 56—40. The appropriations bill largely flat funds most education and workforce programs compared to FY2014, with a few notable exceptions: the Administration’s Race to the Top program was not funded, and funding for the Investing in Innovation and Teacher Incentive Fund programs was reduced. Under the U.S. Department of Labor, major job training programs funded under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) received a slight increase. [Click here to see Penn Hill Group’s analysis of education and workforce funding in the appropriations bill.]

HOUSE and SENATE

Senate leadership announced Republican committee assignments for the 114th Congress. The Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions maintained its current Republican roster and picked up two new members as well: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The Senate voted 76-16 to approve legislation to retroactively renew a number of tax breaks for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits through the end of 2014 – the House approved the bill several weeks ago. The legislation includes three education-related provisions: it extends qualified zone academy bonds that allow K-12 schools to borrow at lower interest rates for projects in partnership with private companies; it extends the allowable deduction for educators’ expenses such as classroom supplies; and it extends a deduction for qualified tuition for individuals with certain income levels. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The Senate confirmed the nomination of James Cole Jr. to the position of general counsel at the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Cole was one of several ED nominees whose nomination process had been delayed in the Senate, and three of the nominees still await confirmation: Ericka M. Miller as Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, Robert Gordon for Assistant Secretary for Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, and Michael Yudin as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

The House and Senate are now in recess, and the 114th Congress will begin its first session on Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education released a draft framework for a college ratings system that would rate colleges as high, middle or low-performing. The framework proposes 11 different metrics that the Department is considering using related to low-income enrollment, graduation and earnings outcomes of graduates. The system will group two-year schools with other two-year schools, and four-year schools with other four-year schools. Graduate-degree-only and non-degree granting institutions are not included in the initial version of the ratings. The Department is seeking public comment on the system – comments are due by February 17, 2015.

ED sent new guidance to chief state school officers on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) state waiver renewals. The letter states that if state educational authorities are “looking ahead” to new college- and career-ready assessments, they can request to put a pause on their accountability system as they implement new assessments. The guidance also says that states can receive up to $1 million for four years for the purposes of evaluating aspects of their ESEA waiver proposals.

Federal agencies, including the Department of Education, published joint interim final regulations on “Federal Awarding Agency Regulatory Implementation of Office of Management and Budget’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.” The notice incorporates into regulation the provisions of guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on December 26,2013 — the OMB guidance has been known as the “OMB Supercircular” —  and deals with such issues as allowable costs under federal grants, grantee time-and-effort certifications, grantee monitoring of funds that flow through to subgrantees and audits of federal grants. The regulations also include agency-specific provisions; for ED they would make technical and conforming amendments to the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) and other, program-specific regulations and delete obsolete ED regulations. As “interim final” regulations, these new rules will go into effect immediately (December 26); however, the Administration is requesting comments through February 17

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