Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap-Up: July 9

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (July 2 – 6) in Washington.


The Department of Education approved two more ESEA state waivers last week for the states of Washington and Wisconsin. This comes on the heels of last week’s approval of five waivers for the states of Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia. This morning’s announcement brings the total of approved waiver states to twenty-six. Eleven additional applications are still under review.

Six states received permission from the Department of Education to freeze their AMOs (annual measurable objectives – the yearly bar which each subgroup in a school must meet in order for the school to have made ESEA’s adequate yearly progress). These one year freezes, which were permitted as part of the Department’s original announcement on ESEA flexibility, are intended to allow states to have additional time to work on their ESEA flexibility requests with the Department. The states receiving this flexibility were Iowa, Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and West Virginia.

A judge from the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. issued a ruling that invalidated the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment regulations. The judge ruled the Department had the ability to regulate in this area, but determined that the Department had no basis for establishing the threshold for the level of loan repayment rates. Department officials have not definitively stated whether they will appeal the decision or put forth a new negotiated rulemaking process to provide a basis for the threshold for loan repayment. Initial analyses, based on the recently released gainful employment data, have shown that a greater number of programs would likely have failed to meet the remaining gainful employment criteria, since programs have to fail all three tests to be sanctioned (once the regulations have been fully implemented).

President Obama signed the highway bill conference last week after a temporary extension. This bill includes the one year delay in subsidized student loan interest rates.


Congress was in recess last week.


The House Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee is still working toward marking up FY 2013 appropriations legislation at some point in July.