Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: October 7

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (September 30 – October 4) in Washington. 

Congress was unable to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government, and a government shutdown began on October 1. Congressional leaders met with President Obama on Wednesday but failed to come to an agreement on how to move forward.

The House of Representatives has begun to consider a series of “mini CRs” that would fund various programs through December 15. This includes bills that would fund Head Start, Impact Aid to schools, and American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Education and Safety programs. The House has passed several of these bills already, including one for the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Supplemental Nutrition program. The House stayed in session this weekend to continue consideration of these bills, as well as vote on a bill that would provide back pay for furloughed government workers. President Obama has stated his intent to veto the bills.

House Democratic leadership announced a plan to file a discharge petition to try and force a vote on a “clean” CR. Under the discharge petition they could begin the petition process on October 11, and if they are able to obtain 218 signatures they can bring a funding resolution to the House floor. Under this scenario, the earliest they could get a floor vote would be October 14.

The Treasury Department announced last week that the federal government will reach the debt ceiling on October 17 of this year. Treasury Secretary Lew followed that up with a letter reiterating the call of the Administration for an increase in the debt limit and that all measures that could be taken by the Treasury Department to avoid a default would be exhausted by October 17.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce postponed their higher education subcommittee hearing that was scheduled for October 1. The hearing, titled “Keeping College Within Reach: Simplifying Federal Student Aid,” has been rescheduled for October 9.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions postponed an Executive Session that was scheduled for October 2, and have not announced a new date. At this session the nominations of the General Counsel and Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services of the Department of Education were scheduled to be considered.

The Department of Defense announced last week that they will suspend their military tuition assistance program during the government shutdown. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Education Department are continuing to process higher education benefits.

The U.S. Department of Education issued their contingency plan for government shutdown, and the Department announced on its website Tuesday that “ED activities have been curtailed and most employees are on furlough.” OMB has compiled Agency contingency plans across the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that they have approved the NCLB waiver request from Texas. 42 states, the District of Columbia and the California CORE Districts now have NCLB waivers.

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