Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: February 18

Here’s a quick look at the news from last week (February 10 – 14).  

While the President’s FY2015 budget request is still expected to be released on March 4 as previously indicated, the White House is now saying that some of the budget data, including historical tables and Analytical Perspectives, will not be available until March 11.

The House and Senate are in recess this week.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), senior Democrat on the House education committee, along with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying that the No Child Left Behind waivers the Department of Education has granted to states are hindering educational equity, especially for certain subgroups of students. The letter calls on the Department to consider this before granting extensions of these waivers.

House education committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and higher education subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to President Obama asking for information on his plans to advance his higher education agenda through Executive Branch efforts and expressed concerns about this approach of acting without Congress.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a full committee hearing last Tuesday on the nominations of Christopher P. Lu to be the Deputy Secretary of Labor, and Portia Y. Wu to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. During the hearing, Chairman Harkin (D-IA) announced that the committee will vote on the nominations at the end of the month.

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Harkin introduced a bill (the Keeping All Students Safe Act) that will address seclusion and restraint policies in schools. He also released the results of an investigation on the impact of seclusion and restraint policies and the lack of legal resources for parents of students who have been secluded or restrained.

The first meeting of a task force on higher education regulations was held last week. The task force was formed by Sen. Alexander (R-TN), Ranking Member on the Senate education committee, and Senators Bennet (D-CO), Burr (R-NC) and Mikulski (D-MD), to identify excessive regulations and make recommendations on the Education Department’s rulemaking process. Senator Alexander and Senator Bennet attended the meeting.

The Treasury Department provided further clarification on how to account for the hours that adjuncts work at colleges and universities for the purposes of complying with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide health coverage. The guidance stipulates that employers of adjuncts can operate under a “safe harbor” if they assume 1.25 hours of preparation time for every one hour of classroom time for adjuncts. This safe harbor is expected to be in effect through at least the end of 2015.

The GAO released a report on the characteristics of projects funded by the Investing in Innovation (i3) program.  

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