“Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – February 12, 2018”

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

Budget and Appropriations

The House and Senate passed legislation early this morning that among other things extends the continuing resolution (CR) through March 23. This legislation also included the recent budget deal reached by House and Senate leaders to increase the defense and non-defense spending caps by $300 billion for fiscal years (FYs) 2018 and 2019. In addition, the bill provided nearly $90 billion in disaster relief funding for States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that were hit by recent storms. As part of this disaster relief, $2.7 billion is reserved to help K-12 and postsecondary institutions and students impacted by these storms. The bill also included language to:

  • Forgive loans from HBCUs that borrowed loans under the HBCU Hurricane Supplemental Loan Program.
  • Waive cohort default rate penalties for community colleges in “economically distressed areas.”
  • Exempt schools that do not charge tuition from the new 1.4% excise tax on endowments that was recently established by the tax bill to apply to private institutions with at least 500 students and endowments worth $500,00 per student.
  • Extend account maintenance fees for student loan guaranty agencies for one year.

Please note that several items that have been included in news reports— such as an additional $4 billion in higher education funding and the additional $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant Program— where not included in the text of this bill. These increases are likely to be part of negotiations on the omnibus FY 2018 appropriations bill, and if agreed to, will likely be included in what Congressional leaders hope to be a final bill prior to or on March 23rd.

Additionally, the bill included an extension of the nation’s debt ceiling through March 2019 and extended various health care and related programs, including the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) through 2027 and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) for five years.  Passage of this legislation ended several hours where the Federal government was technically in a curtailed period of activity often referred to as a government shutdown.


Appropriations Committee Chairman Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) released a statement on the budget and emergency supplemental agreement.

This week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee circulated the Committee views on H.R. 4508, the PROSPER Act. This legislation is the Committee’s bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and was passed by the Committee on a party line vote in December. While the Committee did file the report on the bill with the House, the report is not publicly available yet. The Congressional Budget Office released its score of the legislation.

Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) released a statement on the CBO score of the GOP higher education bill.

On Thursday, House Democrats announced a new, comprehensive infrastructure plan – A Better Deal to Rebuild America.


Appropriation Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) released a statement  on the Senate budget deal/CR/disaster relief/debt ceiling legislation.

Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) released a statement on the bipartisan budget deal.

On Tuesday, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) held one in a series of hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The hearing focused on improving college affordability in the context of reauthorizing the HEA.

Senator Alexander (R-TN) released a statement  on making college more affordable.

Senator Murray (D-WA) released a statement on the need to address raising costs of college and massive burden of student debt.

Senate Democrats unveiled a framework for rewriting the HEA which include priorities on affordability, accountability, access and protecting the rights and safety of all students.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed a cloture motion on a bill that will be the legislative vehicle for DACA/immigration reform debates next week.


While no bipartisan agreement was reached on a legislative solution for DACA, White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly publicly stated that he would recommend that President Trump not extend the existing March 5  expiration deadline for the program.

ED’s second round of Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking was completed this week. In preparation for the four-day meeting, ED released its initial regulatory proposals on each of the eight topics covered under this effort.

ED began accepting applications for the “Student-Centered Funding Pilot,” an initiative authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).


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

  • February 14: House Education and Workforce Committee hearing: “Examining the Government’s Management of Native American Schools”.
  • February 15: House Committee on Science, Space & Technology hearing: “Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships for STEM Education and Careers”.


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