Legislative Activity

Betsy DeVos Testifies at Confirmation Hearing

On Tuesday, January 17 Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s designee for Secretary of Education, testified in a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). Mrs. DeVos has faced harsh criticism from Democrats in Congress and education groups off Capitol Hill, and the concerns have intensified since an underwhelming performance and her demonstrated gaps in education policy during the hearing. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was surprised to learn Mrs. DeVos did not have a complete understand of the differences in proficiency and growth, while Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) expressed their apprehension that she may not fully protect students with disabilities and her unfamiliarity with the Individuals with Disabilities with Education Act (IDEA) elevated their concerns.

In following a precedent from hearings for former Education Secretaries Arne Duncan and John B. King, Jr., Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the HELP Committee, limited committee members to one round of questions. Democrats on the panel all requested another round of questions or an additional hearing after all of Mrs. DeVos’s ethics paperwork has been received, however Sen. Alexander declined to schedule an additional hearing and has indicated he will move quickly with the confirmation process.

Chairwoman Foxx Announces Education and the Workforce Committee Members

Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has announced new members of the committee for the 115th Congress and subcommittee leadership. New members include Reps. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Tom Garrett (R-VA), Jason Lewis (R-MN), Paul Mitchell (R-MI), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL). Additionally, Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) will chair the Subcommittee on Higher Education; Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) will chair the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education; Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) will chair the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections; and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) will chair the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

The committee has scheduled an organizational meeting on Tuesday, January 24 at 11:15 AM to consider committee rules and adoption its oversight plan.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, January 24, the House Education and the Workforce Committee has scheduled an organizational meeting to consider the rules of the committee and to consider the committee’s oversight plan for the 115th Congress.

Regulatory Activity

Obama Administration Finalizes One Last Final Rule

Shortly before leaving office, the Department of Education under President Obama finalized regulations to establish a new system for wiping out student loans of borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges. The “procedural rule” outlines a process for colleges and universities to defend themselves against allegation that they defrauded students, while the department can require a school to cover costs of forgiving federal student loans that were taken out to attend schools that misrepresented programs.