Legislative Activity

House Budget Resolution

Last Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the House Republican FY 2015 Budget Resolution, the Path to Prosperity. It was approved in the House Budget Committee on a party-line vote last Wednesday and the House plans to consider the Budget Resolution on the floor next week. The House Republican Budget uses the overall spending cap for FY 2015 that was agreed to in the budget agreement proposed by Chairman Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) that passed at the end of 2013.

Despite maintaining funding levels for the next fiscal year, the Budget Resolution proposes to make major cuts to education funding in future years, including eliminating in-school interest subsidies for undergraduate student loans, limiting the expansion of income-based repayment options for loans, and removing the administrative fees paid to campus-based student aid programs. In addition, it would completely overhaul the Pell Grant program by making all Pell spending discretionary and subject to the yearly appropriations process as opposed to keeping the program part-mandatory and part-discretionary as it is currently. Chairman Ryan’s Budget Resolution also seeks to save money by consolidating a number of K-12 education programs that are designed to improve teacher quality.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Membership

Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) announced last week that he is joining the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Prior to being elected to Congress in 2012, Rep. Takano was a long-time high school teacher and also served on the Riverside Community College Board of Trustees. He noted several priorities for his work on the Committee including reducing over-testing in K-12 public schools, making college more affordable and ensuring better oversight of for-profit schools.

Upcoming Hearings:

  • Tuesday, April 8: The House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up two bills: the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366) and the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10).
  • Tuesday, April 8: The House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will mark up a number of measures related to veterans’ education: H.R. 3056, H.R. 3614, H.R. 4147, H.R. 4151.  The Subcommittee held a hearing on the measures two weeks ago.
  • Wednesday, April 9: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education will host a hearing featuring Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to discuss FY 2015 appropriations for the Department of Labor.
  • Thursday, April 10: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing titled “Expanding Access to Quality Early Learning: the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.”

Regulatory Activity

Negotiated Rulemaking on the Violence Against Women Act

Last Tuesday, the Department of Education’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) reached an agreement on a draft regulation amending the Clery Act, which Congress changed last year to require colleges and universities to record and report sexual crimes. Among other provisions, the draft regulation includes:

  • Definition of “Prevention Programs.” The draft regulation defines “prevention programs” to focus on programs at colleges and universities aimed at preventing and ending dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
  • Federal Reporting of Dating Violence.  The draft regulation considers data violence to be a crime in terms of federal reporting.
  • Disciplinary Proceedings.  Results of disciplinary proceedings, as well as the reasoning for the results and any imposed sanctions must be reported.  Additionally, students may choose an attorney to serve as an adviser during the proceedings.

Over the next month, the Department will be moving quickly to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on the draft regulation, as implementing VAWA is a priority of the Administration. Currently, the Department is in the process of drafting preamble language for negotiators to review. The preamble will likely include various “protection” language and proposals discussed by the Committee, but not included in the draft regulation, in order for stakeholders to comment on them. The Department intends to submit the draft regulation for Office of Management and Budget clearance by the end of April. Once published in the Federal Register, the comment period will likely be for 45 days.

Congress also is turning to the issue of campus violence. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand coordinated a letter to Senate appropriators requesting additional funding for federal oversight of sexual assaults on college campuses.  Additionally, Sen. McCaskill also sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking for information regarding campus sexual assault, including oversight of data reporting, guidance related to legal policies and procedures, training information, data regarding the handling of sexual assault cases, etc. She requested the information and a briefing by Department staff before Friday, April 11. Much like her work related to military sexual assault, Sen. McCaskill has committed to working on legislation which addresses underreporting of campus rape and sexual assaults, as well as improving support services for victims.