Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – January 23, 2018

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



The Federal government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires today, January 19. On Thursday, the House passed a bill to extend the CR to February 16. The bill also provides an extension of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2023 and delays the medical device and “Cadillac” taxes under the Affordable Care Act. At the time this was written, the Senate had not passed this bill or similar legislation to extend the current CR. If the Senate and House do not reach an agreement on this or other legislation funding the government, the Federal government will go into a curtailed operational mode, often referred to as a government shutdown.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly met with Members of Congress, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but no agreements have been announced.

150 Democratic Members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump urging the Administration to invest in public school infrastructure.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office to request a report on sexual harassment by federally funded researchers, specifically looking at NIH, NSF, USDA, DOE and NASA.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued a statement opposing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to create a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Office for Civil Rights.


The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing to explore financial aid simplification and transparency in the context of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HELP Committee will also hold a hearing on HEA access and innovation on Thursday, January 25.

The Senate Finance Committee voted to favorably report the nomination of Alex Azar as Secretary of HHS to the full Senate. The vote was 15 to 12, largely along party lines.

The Senate HELP Committee voted to favorably report nominees for U.S. Department of Education (ED) positions, including Mick Zais to be Deputy Secretary, Kenneth Marcus to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and Jim Blew to be Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development.

The Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Frank Brogan to serve as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at ED on Thursday, January 25.


The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it is appealing the Federal judge’s ruling that ordered the Trump Administration to “maintain the DACA program on a nationwide basis.” DOJ also sought a Supreme Court review of the judge’s ruling.

ED Secretary Betsy DeVos sent a memo to ED staff on handling a government shutdown. The memo states that more than 90 percent of total staff would be furloughed during the first week of a shutdown.

ED published a searchable database of all civil rights cases currently under investigation at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools, which ED will update monthly.

ED published, in the Federal Register, a notice waiving the August 1, 2019 Head Start center-based service duration requirements, effectively lowering this requirement from 50 percent to 0 percent. However, the requirement that Early Head Start programs provide 1,380 annual hours of planned class operations for all center-based enrollment by August 1, 2018 remains in effect.

ED Secretary DeVos delivered remarks at the American Enterprise Institute, where she discussed K-12 reforms.

ED Secretary DeVos participated in the National School Choice Week rally on Capitol Hill with students and Members of Congress.

The U.S. Department of Labor Taskforce on Apprenticeship Expansion will meet virtually on February 6.


Penn Hill Group plans to provide clients with summaries of the following events next week:

  • January 25: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing: “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Access and Innovation”
  • January 25: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Hearing: “Nomination of Frank T. Brogan to be Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education”