Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – February 29, 2016

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


Several House Republican Members, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), launched the Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility. The task force seeks to strengthen America’s social safety net to better help those in need, including by improving education and training.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) wrote a letter to Acting Secretary of Education John King expressing concern that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) insufficiently punishes senior staff who have been under investigation by the Inspector General (IG) by allowing them to remain in leadership positions.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Member Matt Salmon (R-AZ) announced his plans to retire from Congress in January 2017, at the end of his current term.


The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a committee hearing on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday, March 2. Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, and Mignon Clyburn, Michael O’Rielly, Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Commissioners, will testify.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on Acting Secretary John King’s nomination to be U.S. Secretary of Education. The HELP Committee announced that a vote on King’s nomination would take place as part of an executive session on March 9.


The White House announced that Open eBooks, an application and curated eBook collection, is being launched nationwide through a coalition of literacy, library, publishing and technology organizations.

ED proposed an Equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) rule that would require states to implement a standard approach to compare racial and ethnic groups, with thresholds for determining when disparities have become significant. The rule also proposes broadening the allowable uses of a currently authorized 15 percent set aside that can be used to fund early intervening services to include services to students with and without disabilities, from ages 3 through grade 12 (presently these funds can only be used to support students without disabilities in K-12).

ED released a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address queries states and local education agencies (LEAs) may have around ED’s expectations during the transition to full implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).