Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: November 25

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (November 18– 22). 

The House and Senate will be in recess this week (November 25).

Four members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions announced the formation of a bipartisan task force to look at the impact of federal education regulations on colleges and universities. Senators Alexander (R-TN), Burr (R-NC), Mikulski (D-MD) and Bennett (D-CO) announced that Nicholas Zeppos, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and William Kirwan, the chancellor of the University System of Maryland, will serve as co-chairs of the task force, which will include 14 other higher education representatives.

House education committee Senior Democratic Member Miller (D-CA) is seeking input on adjunct faculty in higher education. He announced the creation on an eforum to collect comments from adjunct and other contingent faculty on their job satisfaction and working conditions and how those might relate to the larger higher education system.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) initiated a rules change that eliminates the filibuster on all presidential nominees except those to the Supreme Court. For these nominations, only a 51 vote simple majority will be required to invoke cloture and allow a vote on a nomination. This could speed up the process of confirming outstanding nominations to the Department of Education including James Cole Jr. as general counsel, Ericka Miller as Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, Ted Mitchell as Under Secretary, Massie Ritsch as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach, Jim Shelton as Deputy Secretary, and Michael Yudin as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

The Obama Administration announced the details of a new grant program called Youth CareerConnect, which will allow high schools to partner with institutions of higher education and employers to compete for grants ranging from $2 million to $7 million in order to redesign their programs to better prepare students for college and careers. The program will be run by the Department of Labor and funded from H-1B visa fees, and applications for the first round of grants are due by January 27, 2014.

The U.S. Department of Education issued a Federal Register notice announcing a new negotiated rulemaking committee for a number of higher education regulations including Title IV aid disbursement, state authorization, underwriting standards for PLUS loans, clock hour versus credit hour, and rules about students receiving federal aid for repeated coursework. The committee will meet for three, three-day sessions in February, March and April 2014.

The U.S. Department of Education held a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee session on gainful employment last week. This second meeting of the committee was supposed to be the last, but the Department announced that negotiations will continue at some point between December 9 and 20 as data on how the latest proposal would impact individual programs were not yet available.

The U.S. Department of Education announced 31 finalists for the second round of the Race to the Top-District competition. The Department will announce five – ten winners by the end of this year. There is $120 million available for this round.

The U.S. Department of Education released school- and district-level state assessment data from 2011–2012 for School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools, as well as analysis comparing the average proficiency rates of these schools to rates in the year prior to them receiving SIG grants.

Penn Hill Group provides a weekly list of grant opportunities, and summaries for select grants. Please visit our website for more information.