Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – May 1, 2017

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



Last week, the House and Senate passed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) (H.J.Res. 99) to continue funding for Federal programs and services until May 5, 2017. Today, the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which would provide discretionary funding for the Federal government for the current fiscal year.

House Republican leadership unveiled the MacArthur Amendment, which largely allows States to waive certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as which benefits must be covered under insurance sold through State and Federal exchanges. House Republican leadership intends to propose this amendment when the House considers the American Health Care Act.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued a statement supporting President Trump’s executive order (EO) requiring the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to review K-12 regulations and guidance.

Chairwoman Foxx released a statement congratulating Alexander Acosta on his confirmation to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

136 Democrat and Independent Members of Congress sent a letter to ED Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to reverse ED’s decision to rescind memos issued by the Obama Administration pertaining to student loan servicing.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and House Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Ranking Member Susan Davis (D-CA) sent a letter to the Government Accountably Office, asking for more information on how ED implements the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on data breaches connected to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) on Wednesday, May 3.

The House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing on strengthening accountability in higher education by improving the accreditation system. Committee Republicans and Democrats released statements on the hearing.


The Senate confirmed Alexander Acosta as DOL Secretary by a vote of 60—38.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a statement supporting President Trump’s EO requiring ED to review K-12 regulations and guidance.

Chairman Alexander released a statement supporting the confirmation of Alexander Acosta to serve as DOL Secretary.

Peter Oppenheim, the Senate HELP Committee’s education policy director and counsel, is a top contender for assistant secretary for legislation and congressional affairs at ED.


White House officials announced the main points of the Trump Administration’s tax plan, which focuses on cutting individual and business tax rates and calls for a repeal of the estate tax. The plan also eliminates nearly all individual deductions, except for the mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

President Trump signed an EO requiring ED to review K-12 regulations and guidance and called on ED to repeal or withdraw any items that are inconsistent with statutory prohibitions on ED influencing curricula or programs of instruction.

Judge William Orrick, a judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, blocked President Trump’s EO to withhold Federal funding from local jurisdictions that have promised to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

ED Secretary DeVos met with 21 members of the House Republican Policy Committee to discuss how to advance school choice policies in Congress.

ED Secretary DeVos announced new means that institutions can use in verifying FAFSA information in response to the outage of the IRS DRT.

National Labor Relations Board Acting Regional Director for Region 5 Sean Marshall ruled that resident advisers at George Washington University have the right to unionize. Marshall’s ruling could apply to other private colleges and universities but not public colleges or universities, as collective bargaining for such institutions is determined under State law.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced his proposal to repeal regulations on broadband service providers. Pai released a public notice on filing comments on his proposal.

ED Secretary DeVos announced the hiring of Liz Hill as ED’s press secretary.


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

  • May 3: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on “Reviewing the FAFSA Data Breach”