- Senate, House Hold HEA Reauthorization Hearings
- USAID Commits to Funding HED Partnerships
- Showdown Over Federal Budget Nears
- Higher Education Leaders Urge Continued Funding for NEH
- IN BRIEF: ED to Convene Rulemaking Panel on Clery Act Changes
It was another busy week in Washington, with Higher Education
Act (HEA) reauthorization ramping up in the House and Senate; some good
news about the funding for one of our signature programs, Higher
Education for Development; and continued budget fights expected for the
remainder of 2013.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and
Pensions (HELP) held the first of a series of hearings yesterday in
preparation for reauthorizing the HEA, the primary law governing federal
higher education programs, which expires in December.
This first hearing
looked at what is called “the triad,” the combination of the federal
government, accreditors and states that oversees American higher
education, and its role in enforcing the HEA. ACE Senior Vice President
Terry Hartle discussed the Education Department’s (ED) role in this
arrangement, explaining that ED has increasingly turned to accreditors
over the past 20 years for help. Left unchecked, he explained, this
trend threatens to make accreditors a regulatory enforcement arm of the
department. The conversation veered quite a bit to President Obama’s
college cost proposals—those of you following that issue might be
interested in hearing the webcast.
Also testifying at the hearing were Paul E. Lingenfelter,
former president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers
Association; Susan D. Phillips, provost and vice president for academic
affairs at the University at Albany, SUNY; and Marshall A. Hill,
executive director of the National Council for State Authorization
This was the first in a series of 12 hearings
the committee has planned for the coming months. Chairman Tom Harkin
(D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a letter
this week outlining the hearing process and the way in which they will
request recommendations from students, parents, the higher education
community and other stakeholders.
Meanwhile in the House, the Education and the Workforce
Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training continued laying
its groundwork for HEA reauthorization this week, with a hearing
on how to improve college access and affordability. Witnesses
highlighted that institutions are forming innovative partnerships with
private sector entities to help reduce costs, strengthen degree programs
and enrich coursework to better meet the needs of a changing student
Congress last reauthorized the HEA in 2008 with passage
of the Higher Education Opportunity Act—five years late and after an
unprecedented 14 extensions of the statutory deadline. These House and
Senate hearings are just the opening shots in what promises to be
another extended process. To read our recommendations for what Congress
should focus on in reauthorization, click here.
You may have read this week that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was considering cutting the operating budget for Higher Education for Development (HED) by 80 percent at the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1.
As many of you know, HED has for many years supported partnerships
between U.S. colleges or universities and higher education institutions
in developing countries. Funding for the partnerships, which involve
nearly 100 institutions in some 25 countries, comes from USAID through a
cooperative agreement with ACE.
I am pleased to inform you that yesterday, the HED
board met with representatives from USAID during which agency staff made
it clear that they are committed to funding the partnerships through
2015. Some details remain to be worked out, but this is a wonderful
development for a program that has done phenomenal work on some of the
most pressing issues facing our global community.
The House is set to vote as early as
today on a plan to fund the government for the rest of the year, which
includes yet another attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act
(ACA)—ensuring the plan’s defeat in the Senate.
Congress has approved no appropriations bills for FY 2014, and
thus the government's spending authority is set to run out Sept. 30. The
House’s stopgap spending measure would finance the government through
Dec. 15 at the current spending levels, which reflect the automatic
spending cuts that took effect in March, known as sequestration. House
leaders were compelled by their conservative wing to strip ACA funding
to gain passage.
House Republicans also attached another
proposal sure to be stripped in the Democratic-controlled Senate, the
Full Faith and Credit Act (H.R. 807),
which stipulates that once the federal debt ceiling is reached,
Treasury is authorized only to pay interest and principal on existing
debt. That means spending for virtually all other federal programs, from
Pell Grants to the National Institutes of Health, would grind to a
With the intractable stalemate over Obamacare and the
debt ceiling, there seem to be few good options to stop a government
shutdown in less than two weeks.
I joined a number of my fellow higher
education association leaders in sending a letter to the House today to
express our concern over the drastic funding cuts proposed for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
NEH funding is included in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
spending bill, which the House Appropriations subcommittee that
oversees spending by those agencies marked up July 23. The bill includes
$75 million for NEH, which is a reduction of $71 million (49 percent)
compared to the FY 2013 enacted level.
On July 31, the full House Appropriations Committee debated the
bill. During the markup, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and David Price (D-NC)
offered an amendment that would fund NEH (and the National Endowment for
the Arts) at the administration’s requested level of $154.4 million.
While the amendment was defeated on a party-line vote, the committee
adjourned for the August recess without taking action on the overall
bill. Although the current situation in the House means the bill’s
passage is unlikely, please join us in expressing to your members of
Congress the importance of the NEH to your campus, students and the
nation as a whole.
The Education Department announced yesterday
it will convene a negotiated rule-making committee to propose
regulations for carrying out new campus crime reporting requirements
included in this year’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women
Act (VAWA). President Obama signed VAWA into law in March, and it incorporated the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, which requires colleges and universities to report incidents such as dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE