Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap-Up: March 18

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week ( March 11 –  15) in Washington.

The Senate began debate last week on their version of a year-end appropriations measure.  The Senate action follows the House passage of similar legislation.  The Labor/HHS/Education section of the Senate bill is funded via a continuing resolution with a few anomalies related to funding for Job Corps and student safety.  The House version for Labor/HHS/Education provides 2013 funding at the 2012 level, minus the 5% sequestration cut and an additional .098% reduction.  The Senate version funds Labor/HHS/Education programs at the 2012 level minus the 5% sequestration cut.  Education-related amendments offered during Senate consideration included:

  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a full-year Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill as an amendment to the Senate bill during debate on Thursday, but the amendment failed by a vote of 54-45 (60 votes were needed for the amendment to pass).
  • Senators Alexander (R-TN), Bennet (D-CO), and Burr (R-NC) have filed an amendment asking for a set-aside of $1 million from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education for a National Research Council study on the impacts of Federal regulations and reporting requirements on institutions of higher education.

The current continuing resolution expires on March 27.

Both Republicans and Democrats released FY14 budget proposals.  The House Budget Committee marked up the Ryan budget resolution on Wednesday, approving the plan by a vote of 22-17.  The Senate Budget Committee also passed their budget resolution by a vote of 12 to 10 on Thursday.  Of note, the House Budget Resolution calls for reconciliation instructions for eight House Committees, including the Education and the Workforce Committee, to produce legislation generating savings of $1 billion each. In contrast, the Senate Budget Resolution only requires reconciliation by the Finance Committee, calling for $975 billion in increased tax revenue.

The House of Representatives passed the Education and the Workforce Committee’s Workforce Investment Act reauthorization bill (H.R. 803, the SKILLS Act) last week by a 215 to 202 vote.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced last week that it will extend its oversight of student loan servicers to nonbank student loan servicers. This will apply to any nonbank student loan servicer that handles more than 1 million borrower accounts.