Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – May 4, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group: 


The House is in recess this week.


The Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed S. 335, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve the 529 college savings plans. The House passed an identical bill in February by a vote of 401 to 20. The Senate bill now awaits full floor consideration.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a committee hearing on May 6 on consumer information’s role in college choice as it relates to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. Witnesses for this hearing: Mark Schneider, College Measures President and Vice President and Institute Fellow at American Institutes for Research; Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Policy; Stacy Lightfoot, Vice President of College and Career Success Initiatives at the Public Education Foundation in Tennessee; and Taleah Mitchell, a graduate of Seattle Central College.


The House and Senate released a joint budget resolution conference report on Wednesday, April 29. The House voted on the conference report last Thursday, it passed by a vote of 226 to 197. The Senate is expected to vote on the joint budget this week. The conference report does not adjust Fiscal Year 2016 spending caps for defense or non-defense spending, but does include reconciliation instructions for both the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee to produce legislation saving $1 billion over the 2016–25 period.


President Obama announced $250 million in free eBooks available to low-income students and the ConnectED Library Challenge for communities to commit to providing all students with library cards.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced eight additional Promise Zones in Minneapolis, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Camden, Hartford, St. Louis, Pine Ridge and South Carolina Low Country. The Promise Zones initiative seeks to increase private investments to create jobs, improve educational opportunities, reduce violent crime and increase economic activity in these areas.