Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: December 16

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (December 9– 13). 

The budget deal worked out by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) passed the House on Thursday by a vote of 332-94. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate will take up the agreement on Tuesday, December 17. The agreement provides $63.4 billion of additional spending authority for FY 2014 and FY 2015 as relief for sequester. Since the additional FY 2014 spending authority has not been allocated among appropriations subcommittees, it is still unclear what this will mean for funding levels in individual education programs in appropriations bills, which are expected to be considered in early January.

The deal also offsets the additional spending authority with numerous spending cuts that amount to $85 billion in deficit reductions over ten years. In education, it reduces Guaranty Agencies’ compensation for loan rehabilitation, and eliminates the not-for-profit student loan servicing program and its mandatory funding.

On Wednesday, December 18, the Senate is scheduled to hold an Executive Session that includes considering the nominations of James H. Shelton III as Deputy Secretary of Education and of France A. Cordova as Director of the National Science Foundation.

The House has completed their legislative business for this year, and the Senate is likely to adjourn on December 20.

The President’s State of the Union address is scheduled for Monday, January 28, 2014.

U.S. Education Department (ED) Secretary Arne Duncan announced two new appointments to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). Simon Boehme is a student at Cornell University and Roberta Derlin is the Associate Provost of New Mexico State University.

ED held a third and final Negotiated Rulemaking Committee session on gainful employment on Friday, December 13. In advance, ED released a new proposal for the rule, with estimates of how many programs it will affect (11,735). Of note, the Department eliminated loan repayment as one of the metrics for which gainful employment programs will be held accountable. After a day of debate on Friday, the majority of negotiators were still split with some feeling that the regulations do not go far enough while others continue to raise concerns that they go too far and that there are still too many unanswered questions. As a result, a consensus was not reached. The next step in the process is for ED to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking, which will likely happen early next year.

Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter is leaving her position at ED at the end of the month and will become a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Higher Education at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Jamie Studley will now serve as acting Under Secretary.

ED announced that the 25 highest-rated applications for the fourth round of the Investing in Innovation (i3) program have secured their required match funding and will receive their awards by the end of this month.

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