Legislative Activity

Education Legislation in the House

This week, the House will consider several pieces of education legislation, including three bills that would reauthorize select sections of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The legislation that the House will be considering includes:

  • Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project (H.R. 3136). This bill would update HEA to create a pilot program that would allow the Department of Education to select institutions of higher education to voluntarily participate in competency-based learning demonstration programs.
  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4893). H.R. 4893 would create a new College Dashboard website that would replace the College Navigator website currently in HEA to provide more information to students as they consider which institution of higher education to attend. This bill will be considered under suspension of the rules, which means it is likely to pass by a wide margin.
  • Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4894). This bill would update the requirements in HEA for the financial aid entrance and exit counseling of students who participate in the federal student aid programs, such as federal student loans and the Pell Grant program.
  • NACIQI and Advisory Committee for Student Financial Assistance Act (H.R. 5134). H.R. 5134 would extend the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) and the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance for one year. This bill will also be considered under suspension of the rules.
  • Student and Family Tax Simplification Act (H.R. 3393). This bill would permanently extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) for tuition and related post-secondary expenses that is currently scheduled to expire at the end of 2017. In addition, H.R. 3393 would increase the amount of expenses that potentially qualify for Pell grant recipients under the AOTC, and Pell Grant amounts that exceed certain education expenses would no longer be considered taxable income.

As noted in last week’s update, the Senate is working on a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill and is unlikely to follow the House’s piecemeal approach to reauthorizing HEA. As such, it is unlikely that the bills updating HEA will go anywhere after the House passes them this week.

Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will consider a bill titled the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act (H.R. 2083). The bill requires states that receive federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to mandate criminal background checks for all school employees. Additionally, state and local educational agencies would be required to publish their background check policies online.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) originally introduced the bill. The House previously passed H.R. 2083 by voice vote in October 2013. Given the broad bipartisan support that the bill has in both chambers, it is likely that the Senate will also take up the bill on the floor at some point this year.

Upcoming Hearings

  • Wednesday, July 23: The Senate HELP Committee will mark up several pieces of legislation including the Protecting Students from Sexual and Violent Predators Act (H.R. 2083).
  • Wednesday, July 23: The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a hearing titled “Meeting the Challenges of Feeding America’s School Children.”
  • Thursday, July 24: The Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Role of States in Higher Education.”

Regulatory Activity

Examination of Federal Guidance on Sexual Harassment in Schools

On Friday, July 25, the U.S. Commission on Civil Right will hold a briefing on Federal Enforcement of Title IX Sexual Harassment Law in Elementary, Secondary, and Post-secondary Schools. The Commission will examine the effect of recent federal guidance on sexual harassment in schools and how it may conflict with constitutional protections.