House Approves FY 2013 Budget Resolution
Duncan Testifies on ED Budget Before House Committee
ED Office of Appeals Overturns Virginia Tech Clery Act Violation
ED Releases Clery Act Clarifications; ACE Clery Guidance Now Available Online
The House yesterday voted 228-191, largely along party lines, to approve a budget resolution for FY 2013, a largely symbolic gesture that nonetheless provides an outline of House Republicans' fiscal priorities in this election year.
The House resolution, written by Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI), would impose cuts on discretionary spending that would surpass those required in last year's debt ceiling agreement, the Budget Control Act. It would set the FY 2013 discretionary budget at $1.028 trillion, $19 billion less than the amount Congress agreed to when they increased the debt limit in August 2011. The resolution also contains a number of provisions that could affect student aid programs, including tightening eligibility requirements for Pell Grants.
The annual budget process, which begins with the release of the president's budget proposal, is traditionally followed by the preparation of House and Senate budget resolutions, which are then reconciled through the legislative process. The resulting plan serves as a blueprint for funding each government agency. The decisions about how much money each program actually receives are then made by the appropriations committees in each chamber.
As I've mentioned before, Congress has failed to pass a budget resolution for the past three years, and the Senate is not expected to propose one this year, and so the House plan will go no further. However, the willingness of House Republicans to renege on the debt ceiling agreement is likely to exacerbate partisan tensions—relentlessly high in recent years—even further.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan made a somewhat contentious appearance before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on Wednesday to discuss the department's FY 2013 budget priorities.
The secretary, who made a similar appearance last week before a House Appropriations subcommittee, faced a barrage of questions on the success of the Direct Loan Program, college costs and the July 1 scheduled interest rate increase on subsidized student loans. On this last issue, he said it is vital to address the immediate interest rate increase but agreed with Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) that a long-term solution is needed.
Sec. Duncan also critiqued the House FY 2013 budget resolution, arguing the measure balances the federal budget on the backs of the country's students. Regarding student aid programs, he said the budget would eliminate eligibility for almost 400,000 Pell Grant recipients and reduce the awards of an additional 9.3 million students, hurt borrowers by allowing the interest rate on subsidized loans to double and eliminating the undergraduate in-school interest rate subsidy, and potentially cut Federal Work-Study jobs for 129,000 students. He also urged Congress to prevent the sequestration process scheduled to occur in January 2013, which would result in a 7.8 percent across-the-board cut to non-security discretionary funding.
For more on the hearing, see the archived webcast and testimony on the committee's website.
The Education Department (ED) Office of Hearings and Appeals ruled yesterday that Virginia Tech did not violate the Clery Act by failing to provide a timely warning to the campus community during the 2007 shooting that killed more than 30 people. The decision overturns a 2011 ED ruling against the university.
The Clery Act, formally known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, requires colleges and universities to keep records and report annually on the nature, date, time and place of crimes occurring on campus.
As you might remember, it took ED four years to conduct its investigation, which resulted in a record fine of $55,000. At no point in the long process did the department speak to anyone from Virginia Tech about the incident. ED also criticized the university because the campus warning was sent by the Office of University Relations and not the campus police chief.
Although there's no changing the fact that this was a terrible tragedy, I am gratified by the ruling to overturn the 2011 decision. Institutions that violate federal law should be held accountable, but only after a thorough, fair and reasonable investigation.
More on the Clery Act: The Education Department has released reporting clarifications that will be of interest to campus staff who work with these regulations.
The clarifications concern three areas: the definition of forcible rape for reporting purposes, the status of Title IX coordinators as Campus Security Authorities, and reporting for additional campuses and non-campus locations. It makes reference to The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, which you can download here.
You might also be interested in the Clery Act guide we released at ACE's Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, which we have now posted online. A President's Guide to the Clery Act gives a general overview of the law and what you can do to help ensure your campus is in compliance.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE