Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – August 21, 2017

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


The House and Senate will be in recess until after the September 4th Labor Day Holiday.

The House Rules Committee posted the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2018 (H.R. 3354), which is the legislative vehicle for the remaining appropriations bills not yet passed by the House. The posting is in anticipation of the full House considering this legislation after Labor Day. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies section of the bill is identical to the House Appropriations Committee passed version of this legislation. The Rules Committee announced that Members seeking to offer amendments must submit by Friday, August 25.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos, asking for information on senior counsel Robert Eitel’s involvement in ED’s decisions regarding the Gainful Employment (GE) and Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released a statement opposing ED’s decision to extend the deadline for alternative earnings appeals for GE programs.

Former House Education and the Workforce Committee Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) died at 83. The Washington Post’s obituary on Ehlers can be found here.


ED published a notice establishing new dates for alternative earnings appeals for GE programs in response to a recent decision in a court case involving some California for-profit colleges and universities. The new dates are October 6, 2017 for filing an intent to file an earnings appeal and February 1, 2018 for filing the earnings appeal. In addition, the notice states that institutions no longer need to achieve a 50 percent response rate on their surveys of the earnings of graduates and did not establish a new minimum threshold.

ED Secretary DeVos released a statement on the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA.

President Trump met with ED Secretary DeVos and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Alexander Acosta to discuss DOL’s progress implementing Trump’s Executive Order “Expanding Apprenticeships in America.” Acosta released a statement on the meeting.

ED approved Connecticut and Louisiana’s State plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

ED provided Colorado with feedback on their State plan under ESSA. The 17 States that have submitted State plans have all received feedback.

ED announced that, to enhance the security and privacy of the transfer of sensitive personal data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, ED will begin encrypting the information for the 2018—2019 cycle and hide it from view on both the IRS and FAFSA web pages.

President Trump signed into law the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, which expands the GI bill to offer a lifetime window for college tuition assistance. ED Secretary DeVos and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin released a statement supporting the bill.

In a case involving a University of Virginia law school graduate suing ED over Title IX guidance issued under the Obama Administration, ED asked a Federal court to put the lawsuit on hold for 90 days while ED’s Office for Civil Rights reviews the guidance. The court granted ED’s request.

The Associated Press held an interview with ED Secretary DeVos, in which she said a Federal tax-credit voucher program was under consideration as part of a potential tax reform bill.