Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – April 18, 2017

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


The House and Senate are in recess until the week of April 24.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) issued a statement in opposition to U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to rescind policy memos issued by the Obama Administration pertaining to student loan servicing.

Senators Patty Murray, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking them to study tax credit scholarship programs across States.


ED Secretary DeVos sent a memorandum to ED’s Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie withdrawing three policy memos issued by the Obama Administration pertaining to student loan servicing. DeVos’ memo also provided some indication that ED intended to continue with the existing servicing procurement.

The White House sent a 14-page memorandum to agency heads outlining the lifting of the Federal hiring ban President Trump initiated in January, as well as outlining personnel cuts based on President Trump’s “skinny” budget, released last month.

ED Secretary DeVos announced several personnel appointments at ED, including the appointments of Josh Venable as Chief of Staff, Jason Botel as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education and Acting Assistant Secretary, Ebony Lee as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Candice Jackson as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office for Civil Rights and Acting Assistant Secretary, Jose Viana as Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director for the Office of English Language Acquisition and Jim Manning as a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary and Acting Under Secretary.

ED released a Dear Colleague Letter saying that States may keep their current practice of identifying schools under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for the 2017–2018 school year or that States can implement the provisions in their State plan even if it is pending ED’s approval. In addition, the Dear Colleague Letter flags that States have to follow consultation and engagement requirements tied to individual programs in their consolidated State plan.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau announced that, in 2017, they will be identifying new and emerging fair lending risks in the areas of home and business lending, as well as student loan servicing.

ED Secretary DeVos released a statement supporting President Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum Listening Session and highlighting the importance of career and technical education.

ED Secretary DeVos released a statement, following her meeting with higher education groups, saying that “increasing access to and affordability of higher education is a top priority for this Administration.”


Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as the 113th Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.