Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: July 22

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (July 15-19) in Washington. 

The House considered H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, on Thursday and Friday, and the bill passed by a vote of 221-207, with all Democrats and 12 Republicans voting against it. There were 26 amendments offered to the bill: 19 passed, 2 failed, and 5 were withdrawn. The bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, July 23, on “The Employer Mandate: Examining the Delay and Its Effect on Workplaces.”

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will mark up a bill on Wednesday, July 24: H.R. 2637, Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act.

A bipartisan group of Senators, including Senators Harkin, Reid, and Alexander, announced that they have reached a deal to lower interest rates on student loans. The agreement, which is likely to be voted on by the Senate early this week (July 22), would set interest rates based on the 10-year Treasury bill plus an add-on and a cap on rates, depending on the type of loan. For undergraduate loans, the add-on would be 2.05% and the cap would be 8.25%.  For graduate loans, the add-on would be 3.6% and the cap would be 9.5%.  For PLUS loans, the add-on would be 4.6% and the cap would be 10.5%.  For example, interest rates on undergraduate loans under this agreement would be 3.86% for the remainder of this award year, until June 30, 2014.

Thomas Perez was confirmed by the Senate as the new Secretary of Labor, by a vote of 54-46.

The Federal Communications Commission held a meeting on Friday to discuss plans to modernize the E-Rate program. The Commission voted to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the topic, with a public comment period. The NPRM will be released soon.

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