Penn Hill Group’s Midterm Election Analysis

The midterm elections were on Tuesday, November 4 with all 435 House seats and 36 Senate seats in play. Penn Hill Group’s midterm election analysis (PHG – Memo on Midterm Elections (November 7 2014)) includes a broad look at the election results, an analysis of how the results will affect politics and policy in the lame-duck session and the 114th Congress, a summary of changes in Administration leadership, House and Senate Leadership, and committee rosters and leadership, and an overview of the FY 2015 appropriations process and the current status of major education and job training pending reauthorizations.

 

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — October 7, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:

HOUSE and SENATE

The House and Senate are in recess and are scheduled to return for legislative business on November 11.

ADMINISTRATION

The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague letter focused on requirements related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act for comparable resources, facilities and course offerings for minority students.

The U.S. Department of Education announced awards for its Turnaround School Leaders Program, which is funded under the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. Twelve awards totaling $20 million were awarded.

Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton announced that he will leave his position at the U.S. Department of Education at the end of this year. He did not announce where he is going. Robert Gordon, who has been nominated as assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development, has begun service as a special advisor to the secretary.

Vice President Biden announced recipients of the latest round of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grants- $450 million in job-training grants were awarded to nearly 270 community colleges in partnership with employers.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded $75 million to 24 colleges and universities under the first round of the new First in the World grant competition. The grants are intended to support innovations toward college affordability and completion. There were over 500 applications submitted for the first competition.

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education released a number of audit reports last week: the first one cited a lack of oversight by the Department of Education of loan guaranty agencies, another found that the Department is offering duplicative services under discretionary grant programs for low-income students and a third faulted the Department for not assessing and addressing the risks in approving direct assessment programs (a type of competency-based education program) to participate in Title IV federal student aid programs.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – September 29, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:

HOUSE and SENATE

The House and Senate are in recess and are scheduled to return for legislative business on November 11.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education released information on the latest cohort default rate (CDR) calculations for institutions of higher education. As in past years, the Department released national data, and data by sector and institution. Overall, the Department is reporting that CDRs are down nationally compared to last year’s data (14.7 percent to 13.7 percent). The Department also announced that it modified individual institution CDRs when borrower loans were split amongst different servicers.

Eric Holder announced that he will step down as Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice; he will stay on until a successor is approved.

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Penn Hill Group provides a list of grant opportunities and summaries for select grants. Please visit our website for more information.​​

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Penn Hill Group’s Vic Klatt Quoted in Education Week Article on Education Policy Implications of Senate Control Post-Election

Penn Hill Group Principal Vic Klatt was quoted in an August 27 Education Week article, “Policy Stakes High as Parties Vie for Senate Control,” specifically on the likelihood of passage of a charter school bill in the new Congress:

“The charter bills’ fortunes could improve no matter what the political landscape looks like, because the issue has bipartisan support, said Vic Klatt, a former aide to Republicans on the House education committee.

‘The issue there is more a process one of whether the Senate will ever want to pass a targeted bill like that,’ separating charter legislation from the rest of the ESEA, said Mr. Klatt, who is now a principal at Penn Hill Group, a government-relations firm in Washington.”

Klatt was also asked about the future for education policy in the Senate with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as the likely leaders of the Senate education committee:

“’Between the two of them, for the first time in a long time, I think there’s some reason for optimism,’ Mr. Klatt said.”

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: September 8

A quick look at the news from last week:

HOUSE and SENATE

The House and Senate were in recess until September 8.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a joint subcommittee hearing titled, “Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs through Independent Oversight,” on Wednesday, September 10.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education announced that it will establish a negotiated rulemaking committee for proposed regulations governing the federal Direct Loan program, in order to allow more student borrowers to use the “Pay as You Earn” repayment plan. The committee is expected to convene in February, 2015. The Department is currently accepting written comments with suggestions on additional issues that should be considered by the committee. Comments are due on November 4, 2014. It will also host two public hearings to discuss the rulemaking agenda, on October 23, 2014 at the Department of Education office in Washington, DC, and on November 4, 2014 in Anaheim, CA.

The U.S. Department of Education granted approval for students participating in two competency-based education programs in the University of Wisconsin system to be eligible to receive Title IV student aid.

The U.S. Department of Education issued a pre-publication preview of changes it is making to the regulations governing the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The proposed regulation makes a number of changes, including two new “models” that were permitted under the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill related to use of evidence-based practices and state-approved approaches, and an extension of the SIG grant period from three to five years.

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Penn Hill Group provides a list of grant opportunities and summaries for select grants. Please visit our website for more information.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: August 18

A quick look at the news from last week:

HOUSE and SENATE

The House and Senate are in recess until September 8.

House education committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate education committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) look into the Department of Education’s waiver policies for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, specifically what information the Department based state wavier decisions on, how states have been impacted by the waivers and how timelines and policies in the waivers are being implemented or adjusted.

Senate education committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and the other Republican members of the committee wrote Education Secretary Duncan requesting information on the authority Duncan is utilizing to adopt the new Results Driven Accountability system for states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Specifically the letter questioned the Department’s use of National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests as an element of the accountability matrix on which states are being measured.

ADMINISTRATION

The U.S. Department of Education announced the opening of the Preschool Development Grant competition — $250 million is available for states through Development or Expansion Grants for preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families. The program is jointly administered by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. Grant applications are due October 14, 2014.

The U.S. Department of Education granted extensions of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) state waivers for five states: Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Wisconsin. They join 13 other states that thus far have been granted extensions on their waivers through the 2014-15 school year.

The U.S. Department of Education has asked for public comments on implementing certain portions of the recently-passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Specifically, they’ve asked for comments on issues relating to the WIOA sections on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Title IV in WIOA) and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Title II in WIOA). Comments are due August 29, 2014. 

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: July 7, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:

SENATE and HOUSE

The House and Senate were in recess last week.

The House is scheduled to take up H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, on Wednesday, July 9. The bill, which is a bipartisan compromise between House and Senate leaders on two pieces of legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, passed the Senate on June 26 by a vote of 95-3.

ADMINISTRATION

Inside Higher Ed is reporting that Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said the U.S. Department of Education plans to release a draft version of the college ratings system this fall.

The U.S. Department of Education released a notice on interest rates on federal student loans for the next award period beginning July 1, 2014. In general, interest rates on the various student loan programs rise by 0.8 percent.

The U.S. Department of Education released its lists of the most and least expensive colleges in the United States as part of its College Affordability and Transparency Center.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: June 30, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:

SENATE

The Senate passed H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act by a vote of 95-3 on Thursday, with Senators Coburn (R-OK), Johnson (R-WI) and Lee (R-UT) voting against it. The bill represents a bipartisan compromise between House and Senate leaders on two pieces of legislation to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act that were passed by the full House and the Senate HELP Committee earlier this Congress. There were three amendments offered during Senate floor consideration: a Sen. Flake (R-AZ) amendment on the makeup of local workforce boards which was defeated by a vote of 33-63, a Sen. Lee (R-UT) amendment relating to evaluation report requirements which was defeated by a vote of 40-58, and a manager’s technical amendment offered by Sen. Harkin (D-IA) which was agreed to by a voice vote. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to be considered as early as the week of July 7.

Senate education committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a draft proposal for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.  The “The Higher Education Affordability Act” touches upon most areas of the Higher Education Act. Chairman Harkin has asked for feedback on the bill from interested stakeholders and submissions should be sent to HEAA2014@help.senate.gov by August 29, 2014.

Robert Gordon’s nomination to be Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Education was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on June 25. His nomination will now go to the Senate floor.

The Senate will be in recess this week.

HOUSE 

House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and higher education subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) released a white paper outlining principles for strengthening the higher education system. Chairman Kline stated his intention of releasing a series of bills that address the principles in the white paper, and the first three of these bills were introduced on Thursday:

Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act (introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA))

Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-IN))

Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC))

The House Education and the Workforce Committee made several subcommittee assignments: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) to the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions and the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) to the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

The House will be in recess this week.

ADMINISTRATION

Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell stated that the U.S. Department of Education will “pause” their efforts to develop a regulation requiring state authorization for distance education programs in each state in which they operate. The issue was recently part of a Negotiated Rulemaking session during which the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee failed to come to a consensus on the issue. The Department would have had to issue a final regulation by November 1 of this year in order for the regulation to go into effect for the 2015 fall semester, but Mitchell said the regulation will not be issued by that date.

The U.S. Department of Education will also delay implementation of the state authorization regulation for programs that are physically located in states other than the main campus of an institution. The rule was scheduled to go into effect on July 1 of this year, but the Department delayed it a year to July 1, 2015. This is the second delay in implementation of this regulation.

The U.S. Department of Education announced a new “Results-Driven Accountability” system for their monitoring of state special education programs. The system, which adds academic-related factors to the compliance monitoring historically used by the Department with states, will be in effect for this coming school year.

The U.S. Department of Education released a Notice of Proposed Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs. The purpose of the proposal is to provide the Department with a menu of priorities that it can use for individual grant competitions without having to take public comment on them each time. Comments on the NPP are due by July 24, 2014.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: June 23, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:
HOUSE 

Current House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his Republican primary race in Virginia  and announced that he will step down from the Majority Leader position at the end of July. In a vote on Thursday, Republicans chose current Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), to replace Cantor. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was chosen as the new Majority Whip.

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and the Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a joint hearing on Wednesday, June 25 entitled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy.”

The House Subcommittee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on Tuesday, June 24 on “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Education.”

SENATE

The Senate agreed to a unanimous consent agreement on Thursday to consider H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act on the Senate floor as early as this week. The agreement allows three amendments to be considered: a Flake amendment around local boards, a Lee amendment relating to evaluation report requirements, and a manager’s technical amendment. The bill represents an agreement reached several weeks ago by Senate and House committee leaders to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.

Senate education committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is expected to release a bill as early as this week that encompasses multiple higher education policy proposals.

Senate education committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and fellow committee member Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) released a bill, the “Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency Act” or FAST Act, that seeks to simplify the federal student aid process. Specifically, the bill eliminates the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) and replaces it with two questions to determine eligibility, allows for year-round Pell Grants, and increases communications to borrowers on what to expect during repayment of their loans.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 24 on “Dreams Deferred: Young Workers and Recent Graduates in the U.S. Economy.”

The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 24 on “Less Student Debt from the Start: What Role Should the Tax System Play?”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on Thursday, June 26 titled “Sexual Assault on Campus: Working to Ensure Student Safety.”

BUDGET

The Senate attempted to bring a “minibus” of appropriations bills to the Senate floor last week, including the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice Science bill, the Agriculture bill and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill. The Senate was unable to reach agreement to take up the three bills as one package with an amendment process, and the process was put aside for the time being. 

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Penn Hill Group provides a list of grant opportunities and summaries for select grants. Please visit our website for more information.

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Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: June 2, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week (May 26-30):

HOUSE 

The House Science Committee finished marking up, and passed by a vote of 20 to 16, the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2014” (the FIRST Act, H.R. 4186). The committee began marking up the bill on May 20. The bill reauthorizes some of the federal scientific research programs, including the programs administered by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in the America COMPETES Act. A summary of the amendments introduced during the markup can be found here.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has indicated that he will seek to include language in the Labor, House and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill to prohibit the use of funds to develop, implement or administer a “postsecondary institution ratings system” such as the one proposed by the Obama Administration.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, introduced a bill that would increase school choice options for children of military parents, students with disabilities, and students in Washington, D.C. (through the DC Opportunity Scholarship program). The bill is titled the CHOICE Act (Creating Hope and Opportunities for Individuals and Communities through Education).

SENATE

The Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Secretary of Health and Human Services this week.

BUDGET

The House of Representatives passed its FY2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill by a vote of 321-87.

The Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations will markup their FY2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill on June 3. The full Committee will markup the CJS bill, along with the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill on June 5.

The Senate Committee on the Budget will hold a hearing on June 4 on “The Impact of Student Loan Debt on Borrowers and the Economy.”

ADMINISTRATION

John Easton, the Director of the Institute for Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, will leave IES this fall to take a position at the Spencer Foundation.

At the White House Science Fair this week, President Obama announced new initiatives around STEM education as part of his “Educate to Innovative” campaign. The initiative would include a $35 million grant program to train STEM teachers, expansion of the STEM AmeriCorps program, and a new STEM mentoring program.

President Obama has nominated Shaun Donovan to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Donovan is currently Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Penn Hill Group provides a list of grant opportunities and summaries for select grants. Please visit our website for more information.

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