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What Did I Miss in Washington? December 12, 2017–January 8, 2018

January 8, 2018

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

HEA Reauthorization Underway. In December, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has pledged to bring H.R. 4508, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act to the House floor for a vote this month. Provisions of the Act would replace the Federal Direct Loan program with a Federal ONE Loan program, repeal the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, and change to the funding formula for the Federal Work-Study program. Other elements of the bill call for disbursing aid "like a paycheck," a new schedule for return of Title IV funds, replacing the cohort default rate measure with a loan repayment rate measure, and changes to the financial responsibility standards for institutions.

Budget Negotiations Continue, DACA Action in Question. The fate of Dreamers remains in limbo as final FY18 spending bill negotiations continue. Congress passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open until January 19, and Democratic lawmakers are urging Republicans to agree to a deal for Dreamers as part of an overarching budget agreement. Beyond Dreamers, lawmakers remain divided over fiscal policy and the stringent caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending. But efforts to lift the caps seem to have stymied. The Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition website provides more information.

Administrative Action

President Trump Signs Tax Bill. On December 22, President Trump signed the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" (H.R. 1). You can learn more about how colleges and universities should prepare for the changes here. Many provisions included in the legislation impact college and university operations and the revenue streams on which they rely. With some provisions effective for tax year 2017, institutions need to take a close look at how current operations will be impacted and begin taking steps to educate staff and align campus procedures toward compliance with the new law. NACUBO will continue to update its tax reform website periodically with additional information as it becomes available.

Borrower Defense Negotiations Continue. This week, draft proposals will be discussed as a rulemaking panel works on a rewrite of the "borrower defense to repayment" rules. Negotiators, including NACUBO's Director of Accounting Policy Sue Menditto, are also revisiting financial responsibility regulations. A full list of negotiators and the meeting schedule can be found on the Department of Education's website.

Net Neutrality Repealed. Amidst protests from Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups across multiple sectors, the Federal Communications Commission proceeded with a planned vote to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections on December 14, 2017. The vote passed 3-2 along party lines with Republican commissioners voting for the proposed repeal and Democratic commissioners voting against it. NACUBO joined the American Council on Education, EDUCAUSE, and other higher education associations to weigh in on the issue in this comment letter.

Advocacy

F&A Working Group Thanks Lawmakers. NACUBO, together with several other associations concerned with research policy, wrote to Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member of the subcommittee, for its strong support of medical research and the National Institutes of Health, and specifically, recognition of the importance of facilities and administrative (F&A) costs to research.

NACUBO Thanks Lawmakers for Mitigating Impact of Tax Reform Bill. Together with dozens of other associations and organizations, NACUBO thanked those lawmakers who took action to address concerns in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

  • Municipal Bonds for America Coalition letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT), to thank them for efforts to preserve the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds, including the ability to issue private activity bonds.
  • American Council on Education-led letters to:
    • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), for his work to help make changes to the endowment provision
    • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), for his leadership on Sec. 117(d)
    • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), for his leadership on Sec. 127 and Sec. 117(d)
    • Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), for his leadership on Sec. 127 and Sec. 117(d)
    • Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), for his leadership on the Student Loan Interest Deduction, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and Sec. 117(d)
    • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), for his leadership on the endowment provision
    • Sen. James Lankford (R-OH), for his leadership on the charitable deduction provision
    • Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL), for his leadership on a "Dear Colleague Letter" on tax exempt bonds

Awaiting Action

1098-T Reporting. The Internal Revenue Service has not yet issued final regulations on 1098-T reporting following its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that calls for significant reporting changes to the form. A November 2017 webcast, NACUBO Update on IRS Form 1098-T: The Form Everyone Loves to Hate, is available on-demand. NACUBO posted a detailed Q&A document in response to issues raised during original broadcast.

Previous Edition

What Did I Miss in Washington? November 29-December 11, 2017

Contact

Liz Clark
Senior Director, Federal Affairs
202.861.2553
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