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


Senator Ben Luján (D-NM) returned to Congress after suffering a stroke in January. His absence gave the Republican Party a temporary 50-49 majority in the U.S. Senate which has now returned to an even 50-50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris casting all necessary tiebreaking votes.

By a voice vote, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act, sending the already Senate-passed bill to President Biden’s desk. The bill requires that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) give preference to educational agencies that plan to implement evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training policies when awarding certain grants for priority mental-health needs.


President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union Address and the White House released a fact sheet with background information on his remarks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance on COVID-19 mitigation practices including for schools.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a statement on “CDC Guidance and Keeping Schools Safely Open.”

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a fact sheet on how States and school districts can use American Rescue Plan funds to expand career and technical education (CTE) opportunities.

The Biden Administration released its “National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan,” a portion of which discusses preventing economic and educational shutdowns.

Following similar action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ED issued guidance stating that income share agreements are to be classified as private education loans by the agency.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain, when asked a question on student loan debt during an interview on the Pod Save America podcast, stated that President Biden will look at what the Administration “should do on student debt before the pause expires, or he’ll extend the pause,” The current pause on Federal student loan interest, payments and collections expires on May 1.


Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) announced that confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will begin March 21.


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