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What Did I Miss in Washington? April 3-April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017

The steady stream of news emerging from the nation’s capital can be overwhelming. NACUBO highlights key actions and provides the status of top higher education business officer concerns.

On Capitol Hill

Supreme Court Confirmation. The Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was sworn in on Monday, April 10.

Freedom of Speech on Campus. On April 4, two committees of the House of Representatives held hearings focusing on higher education. The first was held by the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice of the House Judiciary Committee. Members and witnesses—including representatives from the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the First Amendment Center, and the First Liberty Institution—examined First Amendment protections on public college and university campuses. 

Job Training Programs. The second higher education hearing on April 4 was hosted by the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. A panel of three witnesses discussed and answered questions on the federal government’s role in creating and supporting job training programs.

Updated Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) Introduced. On April 6, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Dean Heller (R-NV), among others, introduced the third version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA). The new version changes the earlier draft’s “Confidential Advisor” to a “Sexual Assault Response Coordinator” to clarify that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in all circumstances. Higher education associations remain concerned about the scope of penalties and overly broad requirements to agree with law enforcement on Memos of Understanding (MOUs).

Congressional Recess. Both the House and Senate are currently in recess and will reconvene the week of April 24.

Administrative Actions

ED Withdraws Obama-Era Loan Servicing Memos. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew three loan servicing guidance memos as part of an evaluation of the procurement process the Department of Education uses when soliciting new independent contractors to handle student loan servicing. The 2016 memos, originally issued by former ED Secretary John King during President Barack Obama’s administration, sought to improve loan servicing for borrowers by imposing greater transparency and communication requirements on government-contracted independent servicers. DeVos, in a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie, described the former guidance as inconsistent and inefficient and stated the withdrawal was necessary to increase “precision, timeliness and transparency.” 

1098-T Reporting. The Internal Revenue Service has not yet issued final regulations on 1098-T reporting following their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that calls for significant reporting changes to the form.

DACA. Despite statements on the campaign trail calling to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Donald Trump has not taken action on DACA to date.

Overtime Rule. There are no significant developments to report on the status of the Department of Labor overtime rule.

NACUBO Advocacy

NACUBO joined other institutions and associations this week in sending letters to Congress urging lawmakers to finish the FY17 appropriations process and reject the Trump administration's proposed cuts to research and higher education in FY17 and FY18:

  • This American Council on Education-led letter to congressional leaders cautions that further delays in current-year funding could affect research and student aid.
  • This letter from a coalition of 576 organizations and higher education institutions was sent to all members of Congress and urges them to protect federal student aid programs, particularly federal student loans and Pell Grants.

Contact

Liz Clark
Director, Federal Affairs
202.861.2553
E-mail