“Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – March 5, 2018”


House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) in response to his February 15 letter requesting a hearing on school safety following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Foxx letter supported increased funding for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as a needed step to help schools prevent and respond to such tragedies.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) issued a statement expressing opposition after the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a  two-year delay of the Equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (or significant disproportionality) rule, which addresses disproportionate identification, placement and disciplinary treatment of students of color in special education.

The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations has requested that Members send their programmatic and language submissions for consideration in the FY 2019 appropriations bill by March 19. Please note that other subcommittees have different deadlines for submissions.


The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced March 7 votes on several of President Trump’s nominees, including Frank Brogan to be Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education and Mark Schneider to be Director of the Institute of Education Sciences.  Former Florida Lt. Governor Brogan has been heading ED’s Office of Postsecondary Education as he awaits Senate confirmation.

Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Sen. Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to Secretary Alex Azar at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) noting her long-standing agreement with his stated position that the Dickey Amendment, which states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot use federal funds “to promote or advocate gun control,” does not impede the Department’s ability to conduct research on gun control.

The Membership of the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform has been finalized. This Committee is required to report of reforms in the budget and appropriations process later this year.

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will accept written testimony from outside witnesses for FY 2019 Appropriations. Submissions are due by June 1, 2018.


This week the White House announced Johnny C. Taylor Jr. as chairman of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Mr. Taylor was most recently the president and chief executive officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and is currently the chief executive of the Society for Human Resource Management.

President Trump, Vice President Pence and a bipartisan group of Members of Congress met on School and Community Safety.

This week ED announced it would soon release the application packages for $2.7 billion in education disaster assistance provided by Congress to help with recovery from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the 2017 California wildfires. The bulk of this funding is for recovery efforts for K-12 schools and students, but $175 million is specifically allocated for higher education purposes.  Additional information about ED’s assistance for Hurricane recover can be found here.

ED has issued an updated version of its Office for Civil Rights Case Processing Manual and made the updates effective March 5. This is the first update to the manual since 2015.

News outlets have reported that ED will officially declare that companies that service Federal student loans are to be overseen only by the Federal government and not subject to State oversight.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider, the Trump Administration’s request to bypass the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on lower court decisions blocking the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Secretary DeVos issued her final “supplemental priorities” for awarding funds through discretionary grant programs, including the expansion of school choice and the promotion of STEM and computer science education. Secretary DeVos proposed 11 priorities last fall and the 11 issued in this final notice are largely the same. The final priorities and related definitions were officially published in the Federal Register today.

ED released a noticed correcting earlier statements in two Federal Register notices about the scope of the public comments in connection with ED’s review of the application of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) for initial recognition and the compliance report submitted by the American Bar Association (ABA), both of which are currently undergoing review for purposes of recognition by the Secretary of Education.  The corrections clarified that the actual application and compliance report would not be made available for public review.

ED announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on a two-year delay of the Equity in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (or significant disproportionality) rule, with respect to the identification of children as children with disabilities and as children with a particular impairment from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2022.


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

·       March 6: House Committee on Appropriations hearing: “FY19 Budget Hearing – Department of Labor”
·       March 6: House Committee  on Education and the Workforce hearing: “Strengthening Welfare to Work With Child Care”


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