Congress is in for a Long Summer

Early morning traffic near the U.S. Capital
Congress came back to Washington this week with a boatload of work to do in the short few weeks before the next recess, in August. It could be a long hot summer.

First up: Budget and Funding

When Congress left for July 4 recess, the House had passed almost all of the 12 required funding bills and the Senate had not begun with any of the 12 bills. September 30 marks the end of the fiscal year; without the new spending bills signed into law, a government shutdown will be in the offing. With Congress scheduled to be in recess most of August, the pressure is on.

The holdup is the budget—or the overall spending cap, which the House, the Senate, and the White House must agree to pass. While the House adopted its own budget caps, they are higher than those that the Senate or the White House will accept. Added to the mix is the pending need to raise the debt ceiling (this is the borrowing limit for the federal government, which routinely needs to be raised to avoid default). Thus, the pressure is on from three corners: budget, FY 2020 funding bills, and debt ceiling.  These three dire needs are in the mix together and there is an effort to wrap their resolution into one package—possibly before the August recess. Learn more.

Senate Confirms New Higher Education Leader for Department of Education

On Thursday, the Senate voted 56-37 to confirm Robert King as assistant secretary for postsecondary education. King has been a higher education official in Kentucky and head of the State University of New York System. He has worked as a senior adviser to the Department since last year. Learn more.

American Federation for Teachers Sues Sec. DeVos over Loan Forgiveness

Yesterday the AFT filed suit against the Department of Education alleging it has mismanaged the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program to the extent that it is violating the constitutional due process rights of borrowers, who are now teachers. To date, 864 of the 76,002 claims for loan forgiveness have been approved. In other words, only 1% have been approved so far. Learn more.

Hearing on Teacher Preparation and Support in House Next Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.

On July 17, The Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee and the Higher Education and the Workforce Investment Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing titled “Educating our Educators: How Federal Policy Can Better Support Teachers and School Leaders.” Tune in and you can watch.

New Resources for Educators

Continue reading the full Washington Update on my website for more information.

Wishing you a great summer weekend, which hopefully involves a lake, swimming pool, beach or other body of refreshing water!

In the meantime, catch me on twitter @janewestdc.

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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant