Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap-Up: May 28

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (May 20 – May 24) in Washington.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-5 on Tuesday to move S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act to the Senate floor. The Sponsor’s Amendment is an update to the original text of S. 744 and references all amendments. A full list of amendments considered is here.

The Senate will be in recess this week.

The House passed H.R. 1911, the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, on Thursday by a vote of 221-198. Four Democrats voted for the bill and eight Republicans voted against it. The bill sets establishes a variable interest rate structure for student loans based on the 10-year treasury note and saves approximately $3.7 billion over 10 years. The White House issued a veto threat for the bill.

The House also approved H.R. 1949, The Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act, by a voice vote.  The bill calls for a study on what higher education data should be collected and how it should be collected.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan testified in front of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce last week, on the President’s FY2014 budget request for education.

The House will be in recess this week.

The U.S. Department of Education approved three additional state waivers for NCLB flexibility last week, for Alaska, Hawaii, and West Virginia. The Department has now approved requests from 37 states and D.C. The Department stated that eight states’ applications are still pending (Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming) and five states have not requested waivers (California, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota (withdrew request) and Vermont (withdrew request)).

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the CCDBG program.  The proposed regulatory announcement makes significant changes to the program in the areas of health and safety, program quality, family friendly aspects of the program and program integrity. Comments are due August 5th.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), released “The Condition of Education 2013,” a Congressionally mandated report to the country on education in America today.

A new NCES report on postsecondary institutions presents key data on price of attendance in 2012-13 and enrollment and degrees and other awards conferred in 2011-12. Key findings show that the number of people enrolled in colleges across the country decreased by 1.6 percent in 2011 and 2012, while the number of degrees awarded increased by 5.1 percent.

The House Appropriations Committee approved its 302(b) allocations this week. The overall discretionary spending level across all subcommittees would drop to $967 billion, which is approximately $19 billion below the FY13 sequester level.  The Labor/HHS/Education Subcommittee allocation of $121.1 billion is $27.8 billion less than the FY13 sequester level of $149.6 billion.

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