Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – April 5, 2017

A quick look back at the news from last week. Compiled by Penn Hill Group.


House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) respectively, and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) respectively, along with 39 additional members of the Senate and House Education committees, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos asking ED to take action to help alleviate complications for students impacted by the current outage of the Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT).

Ranking Members Scott and Murray released a statement in opposition to President Trump’s signing of H.J.Res 57 and H.J.Res 58 into law. These resolutions repealed the Obama Administration’s recently promulgated rules relating to State accountability requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act and to teacher preparation programs, respectively.

Chairs Foxx and Alexander, along with additional members of the Republican party, voiced their support for President Trump’s actions regarding the signing of H.J.Res 57 and H.J.Res 58 into law.

Ranking Member Scott released a statement opposing ED’s decision to discontinue the Opening Doors, Expanding Opportunities grant program, which aimed to support districts and their communities increase diversity in schools.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing on the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget proposals for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at which HHS Secretary Tom Price testified.


The HELP Committee held an executive session to consider the nomination of Alexander Acosta to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Acosta to the full Senate by a vote of 12—11, along party lines.

Ranking Member Murray and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent letters to ED requesting information regarding ED aide Robert Eitel’s involvement at ED while on a leave of absence from his position as Vice President of Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


The Trump Administration released a set of specific proposals to cut FY 2017 spending, which includes reductions to ED’s budget totaling $3 billion, with $1.3 billion coming out of the Pell Grant program surplus. Key Democratic and Republican Appropriations Committee members voiced their concerns regarding President Trump’s proposed FY17 budget cuts, including Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Tom Cole (R-OK).

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, a Federal Judge from Hawaii who issued a nation-wide restraining order on President Trump’s revised executive order (EO) on immigration, extended his temporary order to halt implementation of the EO. This extension came after the U.S. Department of Justice asked the Judge to narrow his ruling to only apply to travel from certain Muslim countries.

President Trump signed into law H.J.Res 57 and H.J.Res 58.

ED released State plan peer review guidance, which includes criteria to: 1) support each State educational agency developing a consolidated State plan for the sections that will be peer reviewed; and 2) guide peer reviewers who will evaluate these sections

ED issued a statement saying that the IRS DRT would likely not be available until the start of the next filing season.

ED Secretary DeVos and Ivanka Trump spoke at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to highlight the importance of education in STEM fields and related opportunities for young women.

The Trump Administration defended the gainful-employment rule in Federal court in a lawsuit filed in February by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools that attempts to block the rule and argues that gainful-employment data undercounted income of cosmetology program graduates.

ED Secretary DeVos delivered remarks to the Brookings Institution, at which she focused on the benefits of school choice.


Penn Hill Group plans to provide clients with a summary of the following event next week:

  • April 4: House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing on “Examining Federal Support for Job Training Programs”