education

House Democrats advance federal student aid overhaul
Bill would expand grants, push back on Trump's for-profit schools agenda

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Rep. Bobby Scott, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. His panel approved a sweeping bill that would seek to address student debt, among other higher education programs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Education and Labor Committee on Thursday voted 28-22 to approve a massive overhaul of federal student loans and other higher education programs that they touted as an overdue move to address the costs of higher education. 

The 1,165-page measure earned no Republican support at the end of a markup that began Tuesday. Among numerous other provisions, it would expand Pell Grants, tweak the Federal Work-Study Program, direct more aid to minority-serving institutions, emphasize campus safety and set several new requirements designed to impose tougher standards on for-profit colleges. It would also use federal aid to encourage states to offer tuition-free community college educations. 

Colleges squawk over endowment tax
Universities push to reduce impact — or scrap levy altogether

Colleges hit with a new endowment take are taking steps to minimize its impact. (Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

A provision in the 2018 budget law aimed at shielding a college in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky from new taxes hasn’t actually done that.

In comments filed on a Treasury Department-issued guidance on the new endowment tax last month, Berea College said it believed Treasury’s interpretation of the tax would force it to pay $1 million a year. The college is asking Treasury to reconsider before finalizing the rules.

Campus Notebook: Idahoans in Africa highlight congressional travel
The latest travelogue and interesting disclosures

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo, left, and James Risch  traveled to a well-known national park in Mozambique. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

This week’s Campus Notebook highlights senators who recently jetted off to Mozambique, Israel and France and a staffer who sold a bunch of stocks, including from the tech industry. 

Idahoans in Africa: Sen. Mike Crapo and his wife Susan joined Sen. Jim Risch and his wife Vicki for a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa and Mozambique. Crapo and his wife’s trip, paid for by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, cost $14,113. Risch and his wife’s trip, paid for by the same group, cost $13,758.

Pay to play: Will California prompt congressional action on college athletics?
The norm for college athletics has been steadily rising revenue, and business shifts

Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler catches a 22-yard touchdown pass during a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday. A new California law may prompt congressional action to allow student-athletes to be compensated. (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images file photo)

For college football fanatics, nothing compares to waking up on that first crisp autumn Saturday morning to prepare for a whole day of game watching. Tuning in to ESPN’s “College GameDay.” Sipping bourbon at the tailgate without facing societal judgment for drinking before noon.

College football’s shared rituals and traditions provide millions with a weekly source of escapism and entertainment every fall. The game offers excitement, frustration and camaraderie on any given Saturday thanks to the dizzying skills of its student-athletes.

Partisan divide reaches into views of higher education
After years of similar views, a divergence in the last decade

Among the issues House Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. Scott must navigate with is a growing partisan divide on the value of higher education. Scott introduced the College Affordability Act on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Once, American colleges and universities enjoyed bipartisan support, and Republicans and Democrats alike believed in the value of higher education.

Today, not so much. And that could be a big issue as Congress considers reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, a version of which House Democrats unveiled Tuesday. 

Educating K Street: Colleges and universities seek influence in Congress, executive branch
Schools are in the midst of heated immigration, health care and technology debates

Stu Van Scoyoc is president and CEO of Van Scoyoc Associates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lobbyist Stu Van Scoyoc began working for the University of Alabama system three decades ago, helping the school smooth over a problem the 1986 tax overhaul created for its pension program. It’s still a client.

Lobbying on behalf of colleges and universities has been a mainstay of K Street work for years for firms like Van Scoyoc Associates. And many of the biggest spending university systems maintain their own lobbying outposts in Washington with in-house employees who monitor Capitol Hill and executive branch debates and look for federal funding opportunities, relying often on home-state and alumni connections.

Senate floor debate beckons amid spending bill impasse
Under stopgap law, lawmakers have about five weeks to reach funding agreement

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby says there’s a “good chance” the chamber can start debating spending bills next week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate next week could debate a package of spending bills that have received bipartisan support in the Appropriations Committee, according to Chairman Richard C. Shelby.

“I’ve been hearing that and conversations lend me to think there’s a good chance,” the Alabama Republican said Wednesday, noting that the final decision is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I think there are five, six, seven appropriations bills that we could pass if we get to the floor.”

New teachers’ union chief puts equity first
Kim Anderson returns to the National Education Association amid turbulent political environment

Kim Anderson is the new executive director of the National Education Association. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kim Anderson will be the first to tell you she got lucky. She grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia, the well-heeled D.C. suburb, where she attended “one of the best public school systems in the country,” before receiving an undergraduate degree from the College of William & Mary, one of the country’s top public colleges.

Now, she’s taken on a new role as executive director of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, with the hopes of making schools everywhere as good as the ones she attended.

Smithsonian has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance, committee told
Buildings with outstanding repair needs include the Castle and the National Air and Space Museum

Cathy L. Helm, inspector general of the Smithsonian Institute, testifies before the House Administration Committee on Oversight of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Smithsonian Institution has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance needs across the more than 600 facilities it oversees, an issue that concerned lawmakers at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing and one that the recently appointed head of the museum complex pledged to address.

Prominent Smithsonian buildings in need of deferred maintenance — maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been — include the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, the Arts and Industries Building and the National Air and Space Museum. The $937 million backlog for fiscal 2017 is an assessment of every building it oversees, according to to Cathy Helm, inspector general for the Smithsonian Institution.

Senate appropriations process continues to devolve
Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations spending bills mired in abortion dispute

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has seen the Senate’s appropriations process begin to fray this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators have abandoned plans to mark up two spending bills Thursday that have become mired in a partisan dispute over abortion policy.

The Appropriations Committee announced it will postpone consideration of its fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education bill and its State-Foreign Operations bill. As of Wednesday evening, the panel still planned to take up its Defense and Energy-Water bills at a full committee markup, along with a measure that would divvy up total discretionary spending among the 12 subcommittees.