As Government Shutdown Continues, Broad Outline Emerges of Higher Education Policy Agenda for 2019 January 07, 2019 Section 1 ContentThe 116th Congress began work last week amid a partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22 and is now tied for the third longest on record. In the dispute centering on funding for a border wall, President Trump has insisted that he will not cave on his demand for $5 billion for the project to be included in a bill to fund the government for the rest of FY 2019, which runs through Sept. 30. Democrats say they are willing to discuss a more wide-ranging plan to address border security and immigration, but only after the shutdown ends. The primary impact on higher education so far has been on research funding. As Inside Higher Ed pointed out last week, the shutdown applies to agencies that are not covered by appropriations bills already signed into law. The bill which covers the Education Department and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been signed into law, so student aid and NIH research grants are not affected. However, funding bills for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Endowment for the Humanities have not been signed into law and so those agencies effectively are closed. The New York Times reported Saturday that the NSF has said it will cancel dozens of proposal review panel meetings this month if the government remains closed. Meanwhile, the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and a solution for the Dreamers—the thousands of undocumented young immigrants who live in the country—fades in and out of the discussion. At a news conference last week, the president suggested he might be willing to come to an agreement with Democrats on DACA. But the subject of a DACA-for-wall deal was never broached during shutdown negotiations this weekend, The New York Times said. If and when the impasse comes to an end, a full agenda for higher education awaits both Congress and the administration: DACA and Other Immigration Issues If not resolved during shutdown negotiations—which is highly doubtful—pressure for Congress to pass legislation to address DACA is likely to increase as the Supreme Court decides early in 2019 on whether or not to take up one or more of the continuing legal cases over the Obama-era policy. House Democrats are likely to pass legislation early in the year that addresses both DACA and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, which also has been ended by the administration. But it is unclear if the Senate would take up the House bill. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), the Republican co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, will serve as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would likely consider any legislation that addresses DACA. ACE will continue to advocate for a bipartisan, permanent solution for our Dreamers. International Students and Visa Issues The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the State Department are likely to consider changes to F-1 and J-1 visas, as well as possible changes to H-1B and Optional and Practical Training. Late last year, the administration announced it would consider changes to the "duration of status" for F-1 and J-1 visas, which would more narrowly limit visa stays for international students. Science and Security As in the 115th Congress, China and issues of academic espionage will be a bipartisan focus for Congress and federal agencies, including the Department of Education, the NSF, NIH, and Department of Defense. Congress will continue to seek transparency on MOUs and partnerships between U.S. institutions of higher education and partners in China, as well as examining issues within the peer review process and shoring up reporting requirements for grant recipients about foreign grant aid. Sexual Assault/Title IX The Department of Education’s proposed rule on Title IX sexual assault, published in the Federal Register for comment at the end of last year, redefines the obligations of colleges and universities related to allegations of sexual misconduct and requires significant changes to the processes institutions use to investigate and resolve such allegations. The public has until Jan. 28 to submit comments on the rule, and the Department of Education must respond to such comments before the regulations are finalized. For background and other information on the process, see our Title IX resource page. Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) The HEA, first signed into law in 1965, is long overdue for reauthorization. The single most important piece of legislation overseeing the relationship between the federal government, colleges and universities, and students was last renewed in 2008 and has been running on temporary reauthorizations since 2013. Two HEA reauthorization bills were introduced in the House in 2017 and 2018, one by Republicans and a separate bill from the Democrats. With the Republicans in the majority, their bill—known as the PROSPER Act—was the focus of all the action in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as advocacy efforts by higher education associations and others. Under the new Democratic majority, their bill, dubbed the Aim Higher Act, is likely to be the starting point in 2019. With Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) announcement in December that he will not seek reelection in 2020, speculation is that Congress might step up efforts to pass a reauthorization bill this year. Alexander chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and has been a commanding voice on higher education issues since first being elected in 2003. Regulation of Higher Education While 2019 looks to be less active than 2018 was in the regulatory area, the year begins with a massive negotiated rulemaking session on accreditation and innovation, slated to begin later this month. This represents the first sustained effort in a long while to look at the relationship between accreditors, institutions, and the federal government. It also presents the first time this administration has put forward a comprehensive summary of their views on higher education. Oversight Activities With Democrats taking control of the House, congressional oversight of the executive branch is expected to ramp up. The House Education and Labor Committee has already announced plans to hold hearings on the Title IX, gainful employment, and borrower defense regulations; ties between the Education Department officials and for-profit colleges; and the management of loan forgiveness programs, among other issues. These inquiries will provide additional data and insight into the Department’s work, but historically, have also resulted in added burden on the operations of the Department, slowing down the work of staff. Budget and Appropriations After two years of relative stability in federal funding, 2019 may be much more challenging. A two-year budget deal raised the overall caps on federal funding, which allowed for significant increases in funding for programs (like Pell Grants and NIH) of interest to colleges. Those caps go away this year, and without a bipartisan agreement to put new, higher caps in place, we may see massive cuts in federal spending. At the same time, the administration has expressed growing concern about the deficit, which nearly reached $1 trillion last year, and has been steadily growing after several years of decline. It is widely expected that the President’s budget, when released, will propose massive reductions in non-defense spending, in line with the administration’s previous two budgets. Finally, the federal debt ceiling will need to be raised this year, and this issue tends to cause intense partisan debate. The current limit expires in March, but the government is not expected to reach the debt limit until late summer or early fall. In the past, negotiations around raising the debt limit have resulted in shutdowns and long-term deals around spending that have had significant impacts on overall federal spending. Section 2 Content Section 3 Content Section 4 Content Section 5 Content Section 6 Content Button Content Rail Content 1 Related Content Federal Shutdown Includes Agencies Supporting ResearchInside Higher Ed (Jan. 2, 2019)Toll on Science and Research Mounts as Government Shutdown ContinuesThe New York Times (Jan. 5, 2019)A Wall and Two Prayers, but Little Progress at Weekend Meetings on the ShutdownThe New York Times (Jan. 7, 2019)Graham: Trump 'Open-Minded' to Wedding Border Funding to DACA ProtectionsThe Hill (Dec. 30, 2018)Proposed Rule on Title IX Sexual AssaultFederal RegisterACE Title IX Resource PageOverhauling Rules for Higher EdInside Higher Ed (Jan. 7, 2019)Opinion: Congress Must End the Purgatory for 'Dreamers'The Washington Post (Nov. 9, 2018)How Higher Ed Will Be a Battleground for Immigration Debates in 2019PRI's The World (Jan. 3, 2019) Rail Content 2 Rail Content 3 Related News ACE this week joined the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and seven other higher education associations in launching a task force. Read More News ACE, Higher Ed Groups Launch Task Force to Improve Student Aid Offers and Price Transparency Member Spotlight November 28, 2022 Starting this semester, students at ACE member Iowa State University can major in climate science, a degree just a sprinkling of colleges across the country offer. Read More Member Spotlight November 28, 2022 Iowa State University Launches Cutting-edge Climate Science Major Podcast November 21, 2022 Terry Hartle and Jon Fansmith talk about what the midterm elections mean for higher education policy in the lame-duck session and beyond. Read More Podcast November 21, 2022 Midterm Election Aftermath News November 18, 2022 ACE and over 60 other higher education associations sent a letter Nov. 17 to House and Senate leaders urging them to make protecting Dreamers and the DACA program a priority, given recent court decisions declaring DACA illegal. Read More News November 18, 2022 ACE, Higher Ed Groups: Pass Legislation Now to Protect Dreamers Podcast November 10, 2022 Heidi VanGenderen, chief sustainability officer at the University of Colorado Boulder, talks about why higher education is perfectly poised to take on the climate crisis, despite the political divides. Read More Podcast November 10, 2022 Making the Case for Sustainability in Higher Ed News November 4, 2022 The Department of Education released final regulations on targeted student debt relief programs on Oct. 31, hitting the Nov. 1 deadline to meet an implementation date of July 1, 2023. Read More News November 4, 2022 Education Department Issues Final Rules on Student Debt Relief, Other Programs News October 17, 2022 The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was not lawful but preserved the district court’s stay, which permits current enrollees to continue renewing their status. Read More News October 17, 2022 Appeals Court Says DACA Is Illegal but Keeps Program Alive Podcast October 13, 2022 Nasser Paydar, assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the Department of Education, joins the hosts to talk about what the department is doing to improve access and affordability for college students. Read More Podcast October 13, 2022 Nasser Paydar Talks Mental Health, Student Debt Relief, and Other Priorities for the Education Dept. Statement October 6, 2022 We are dismayed that this ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals continues to force hundreds of thousands of outstanding young Dreamers to live in fear and uncertainty. Read More Statement October 6, 2022 Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals DACA Ruling Podcast September 29, 2022 Jon Fansmith and Terry Hartle are back to give their predictions for what Congress will dive into this fall before they adjourn ahead of midterm elections, including a continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of the year. Read More Podcast September 29, 2022 Higher Ed Policy Predictions for the Fall Podcast September 15, 2022 Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the NASFAA, helps break down what the Biden administration's student loan forgiveness plan means for borrowers, institutions, parents, and the higher ed community as a whole. Read More Podcast September 15, 2022 Breaking Down Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan News September 12, 2022 The groups thank the department for its efforts to provide greater flexibility and urge additional clarity and flexibility to help colleges and universities fulfill the promise of the law. Read More News September 12, 2022 ACE, Other Groups Comment on Education Department Title IX Draft Rule News August 31, 2022 The student loan repayment pause has made data measuring the share of borrowers who default on their debts nearly meaningless. Federal policymakers and institutions need new ways to measure how well borrowers are prepared for success in the labor market. Read More News August 31, 2022 Measuring Student Loan Default Today News August 30, 2022 The Biden administration last week released the final version of regulations aiming to strengthen the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Read More News August 30, 2022 Final DACA Regulations Released by Biden Administration Statement We applaud this action by the Biden administration to preserve and fortify the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Read More Statement Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on Final DACA Regulations Statement August 24, 2022 President Biden’s decision to cancel student loan debt for millions of borrowers is the right move at the right time, but to avoid forcing current and future students into the same debt morass, we must modernize the federal student loan program. Read More Statement August 24, 2022 Statement by ACE President Ted Mitchell on President Biden’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Announcement News August 19, 2022 With the fall semester about to begin, the Biden administration is getting the word out to campuses on two key topics: Preparing for the latest phase of COVID-19 and the new challenge of monkeypox, and taking advantage of changes to PSLF ahead of Oct. 31. Read More News August 19, 2022 Back to School Prep: Monkeypox, COVID, Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Your Campus News August 15, 2022 ACE and 23 other higher ed groups submitted comments to the Education Department on draft rules to enhance protections for defrauded borrowers, improve Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and make other revisions to student loan discharge regulations. Read More News August 15, 2022 ACE, Associations Offer Recommendations for Final Student Loan Forgiveness Regulations News August 10, 2022 President Biden yesterday signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, a $280 billion bipartisan bill to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing and increase funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other research agencies. Read More News August 10, 2022 President Signs CHIPS and Science Act, Investing Billions in Research News July 20, 2022 The House has passed two bills that seek to address the growing mental health crisis on college campuses: the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act and the Campus Prevention and Recovery Services for Students Act. Read More News July 20, 2022 House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Address Student Mental Health Podcast July 14, 2022 ACE's Anne Meehan and Peter McDonough talk about what the newly proposed Title IX regulations mean for college campuses and the effort to address and prevent sex-based discrimination. Read More Podcast July 14, 2022 New Proposed Title IX Regulations are Here. Now What?