Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

December 13, 2019

Congressional Update

House and Senate Leaders Announce Funding Deal “In Principle”

With only a handful of days remaining before temporary funding for the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies expires, House and Senate appropriations committee leaders have announced an agreement “in principle” on a funding deal for all twelve appropriations bills, and an intent to pass them prior to the expiration of the current continuing resolution next Friday. Following a lengthy meeting with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the leaders announced that they had reached agreement on outstanding issues, and a vote may come in the House as early as Tuesday. No additional details about the funding deal, including levels of funding for the Department of Education or key education funding programs, are yet available, and may not be posted for another few days. It is also unclear how the most difficult issue impeding negotiations – funding for President Trump’s border barrier – was resolved, and as with previous funding fights, it’s not truly over until the President has signed the bill. MSBA and NSBA is closely monitoring the situation and will report any substantial developments as they are learned.

Congress Passes Simplification of Financial Aid Application Process

The House (319-96) and Senate (voice vote) passed H.R.2486 that – in addition to providing funding to historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions – will make filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) easier for applicants by reducing and simplifying the numbers of questions. The FAFSA simplification process, a longtime priority for retiring Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), will also allow sharing of IRS taxpayer information with the Department of Education for purposes of the application. The President is expected to sign the bill.

 Administration Update

Department of Education Proposes Expanded Access to TEACH Grants

The Department of Education proposed a new rule, open for public comment, “that would expand access to Teacher Education Assistance for College Higher Education (TEACH) Grants and ensure religious liberty is protected for faith-based higher education institutions and their students.” The proposed regulation is designed to address the program’s burdensome compliance requirements for TEACH grant recipients. Public comments are due by January 10, 2020.

Notable K-12 Bills

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