Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: January 13

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (January 6 –  10).  

Work on a $1 trillion, 12-part omnibus budget package continued last week. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) said that 8 of the 12 parts of the omnibus are done, but Congress will need to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution to allow more time to finish the bill and move it through the House and Senate. The House is scheduled to consider a short-term Continuing Resolution on Tuesday that would fund the government through January 18. The current deadline to avoid a government shutdown is January 15.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a full committee hearing on Thursday, January 16 on “Strengthening Federal Access Programs to Meet 21stCentury Needs: A Look at TRIO and GEAR UP.” This is the fifth hearing in a series of hearings in the HELP Committee on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

At an event on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) pressed for school-choice advocates to continue to push for policies and programs on this topic in places including New York City, Washington, D.C. and Louisiana.

The Obama Administration announced that it has designated five communities as Promise Zones: San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, a group of eight Southeastern Kentucky counties, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Promise Zones, which were first announced in the President’s State of the Union address last year, are regional areas that receive tax incentives and priority for grants from a number of federal agencies (Housing and Urban Development, Education, Justice, and Agriculture) to fight poverty, create jobs and expand educational opportunities. The Administration is expected to announce up to 15 additional Promise Zones over the next three to four years.

The U.S. Department of Education will hold a symposium on January 22, which will be open to the public, to discuss technical aspects of the proposed college ratings system. A panel of experts on data collection will make presentations on how the ratings system should be developed, and answer questions the Department posed such as what kinds of data are currently available, how they should be weighted in a ratings system and how to present the information.

The Departments of Justice and Education issued guidance to schools on ensuring that discipline policies do not violate civil rights protections and further outlined the investigative and enforcement process used when allegations of such violations are made. As part of this guidance, the Departments recommended a number of solutions public school officials could use before requesting law enforcement to handle disciplinary issues.

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