Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – April 11, 2017

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


House Ranking Members Bobby Scott (D-VA) of the Education and the Workforce Committee, John Conyers (D-MI) of the Judiciary Committee, Bennie Thompson (D-MS) of the Homeland Security Committee and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly asking them to remind public schools that they are required to educate undocumented children, despite recent changes to immigration policies.

Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and members of the House and Senate Education committees sent a letter to ED Secretary DeVos requesting that ED explain how they will enforce provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act that require States and school districts to consult with stakeholders during the development of State and local plans for carrying out the law.

A bipartisan group of House Members have formed the Task Force to End Sexual Violence, which will focus on issues including campus safety, data collection and law enforcement training.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee advanced the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act (H.R. 1808), as well as the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 1809).

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to examine Federal support for job training programs. The documents and webcast can be found here.


The Senate changed its rules, invoking the so called “nuclear option,” by reducing the threshold for a filibuster of Supreme Court nominations from 60 votes to a simple majority during the nomination process for Judge Neil Gorsuch. The Senate confirmed Judge Gorsuch by a vote of 54-45.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement voicing her concerns about ED’s decision to end the contracts of four companies that collect student loans on behalf of the Federal government.

Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Patty Murray and 32 other Senators sent a letter to ED Secretary DeVos expressing concern over announcements that borrowers may not be able to rely on notices they have previously received about their eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), along with Democrats in the House and Senate, introduced the College for All Act (S.806).


President Trump announced his intent to nominate Carlos Muñiz to serve as General Counsel at ED.

The Washington Post reported that Candice Jackson announced that she has accepted an appointment by President Trump to serve as acting assistant secretary for civil rights in ED’s Office for Civil Rights.

Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen testified, before the Senate Finance Committee, that nearly 100,000 taxpayers may have had their personal information compromised by a security breach of the Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool .

Inside Higher Ed reported that ED will end four experimental sites, which are initiatives to test different Federal financial aid delivery methods on a limited basis.

ED announced that that it will begin restoring Pell Grant eligibility to students who attended now-closed schools.

In a legal filing, ED signaled that certifications from an administrator utilized for eligibility determinations for PSLF may not be valid in all instances.