Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap-Up: July 16

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (July 9 – 13) in Washington.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced at the NGA Conference Friday that college completion numbers have gone up by a half percent, from 38.8 percent in 2009 to 39.3 percent in 2010. This amounts to about 100,000 more students holding post-secondary degrees.

The Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on July 19 on “Making College Affordability a Priority: Promising Practices and Strategies.”

The House Committee on Education & the Workforce will hold a hearing on July 18 titled “Keeping College Within Reach: Exploring State Efforts to Curb Costs.”

A bipartisan group of House Members (Kline (R-MN), Foxx (R-NC), McKeon (R-CA), Rehberg (R-MT), Andrews (D-NJ), McCarthy (D-NY), Scott (D-VA), and Hastings (D-FL)) announced Friday that they sent a letter to Secretary Duncan asking the Administration to stop further implementation of the gainful employment regulation.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs advanced three bills to the full House last week, including H.R. 4057, The Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act of 2012. The bill would create a centralized complaint process to track student issues concerning the GI Bill, and require VA to better inform veteran students about education counseling and provide expanded data points for students to help make informed choices about their education.

The House Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee announced Friday that they will mark up FY 2013 appropriations legislation next week on Wednesday, July 18 at 10:00 a.m.

The Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities released a joint statement from over 150 University presidents urging the President and Congress to prevent budget sequestration spending cuts. They also sent a letter to the White House and key leadership and committee chairs in both the House and Senate calling sequestration “an undiscerning and blunt budget tool that would substantially harm our nation’s future by blindly slashing valuable investments in education and scientific research, as well as other important discretionary programs that provide health, economic and national security.”

Senate Majority Leader Reid stated on Tuesday that the Senate will not likely clear any spending bills before the end of the year, due to the “ongoing impasse” with House Republicans on spending levels.