Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: August 5

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (July 29 – August 2) in Washington.   

On Thursday, the House passed a bipartisan agreement to lower interest rates on student loans by a vote of 392-31. The Senate approved the bill the prior week. The agreement sets 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%. The bill now goes to the President for signature.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions marked up a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act on Wednesday. S. 1356, the Workforce Investment Act of 2013, passed the committee by a vote of 18-3, with Senators Burr (R-NC), Roberts (R-KS), and Scott (R-SC) voting against it.

The House and Senate will be in recess for the rest of the month of August, and will return to session the week of September 9.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the beginning of the second round of the Race to the Top- District competition, with nearly $120 million available for grants in this round. Applications are due by October 3, 2013 and the Department will announce awards no later than December 31, 2013.

The U.S. Department of Education will likely publicly announce the gainful employment negotiators in the next few days. Press accounts have said that the negotiators will be John Kolotos (U.S. Department of Education), Rory O’Sullivan (Young Invincibles), Eileen Connor (New York Legal Assistance Group), Margaret Reiter (former deputy attorney general of California), Kevin Jensen (College of Western Idaho), Jack Warner (South Dakota Board of Regents), Della Justice (special assistant attorney general, Kentucky), Ted Daywalt (VetJobs), Helga Greenfield (Spelman College), Richard Heath (Anne Arundel Community College), Barmak Nassirian (American Association of State Colleges and Universities), Jenny Rickard (University of Puget Sound), Brian Jones (Strayer University), Marc Jerome, (Monroe College), and Belle Wheelan (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges).

new report from the Government Accountability Office gives the status of the Department of Education’s inventory of its data collections. The Department has stated that their major data collections will be housed online in a searchable web database by November 2013 and will be available to the public.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Libby Doggett will serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary for policy and early learning in the Office of Early Learning. Doggett was most recently at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Catherine E. Lhamon to the position of Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Lhamon is currently the director of impact litigation at a law firm in California.

The House recessed for the August break without a rescheduled markup in Subcommittee of the Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill.