Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up: June 23, 2014

A quick look at the news from last week:

Current House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) lost his Republican primary race in Virginia  and announced that he will step down from the Majority Leader position at the end of July. In a vote on Thursday, Republicans chose current Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), to replace Cantor. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was chosen as the new Majority Whip.

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and the Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a joint hearing on Wednesday, June 25 entitled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy.”

The House Subcommittee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on Tuesday, June 24 on “American Energy Jobs: Opportunities for Education.”


The Senate agreed to a unanimous consent agreement on Thursday to consider H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act on the Senate floor as early as this week. The agreement allows three amendments to be considered: a Flake amendment around local boards, a Lee amendment relating to evaluation report requirements, and a manager’s technical amendment. The bill represents an agreement reached several weeks ago by Senate and House committee leaders to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.

Senate education committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is expected to release a bill as early as this week that encompasses multiple higher education policy proposals.

Senate education committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and fellow committee member Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) released a bill, the “Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency Act” or FAST Act, that seeks to simplify the federal student aid process. Specifically, the bill eliminates the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) and replaces it with two questions to determine eligibility, allows for year-round Pell Grants, and increases communications to borrowers on what to expect during repayment of their loans.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 24 on “Dreams Deferred: Young Workers and Recent Graduates in the U.S. Economy.”

The Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 24 on “Less Student Debt from the Start: What Role Should the Tax System Play?”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing on Thursday, June 26 titled “Sexual Assault on Campus: Working to Ensure Student Safety.”


The Senate attempted to bring a “minibus” of appropriations bills to the Senate floor last week, including the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice Science bill, the Agriculture bill and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development bill. The Senate was unable to reach agreement to take up the three bills as one package with an amendment process, and the process was put aside for the time being. 


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