[NHDOE-ETNews] 115th Congress/New Administration - January Outlook

Freeda, Stanley Stanley.Freeda at doe.nh.gov
Wed Jan 4 08:50:17 EST 2017

Today on the ETNews Listserv
ITEM:  115th Congress/New Administration - January Outlook

Congress will reconvene today to begin a busy January agenda, including addressing items important to SETDA. As this important work period begins, many "unknowns" remain about the 115th Congress and new administration, but we want to summarize important information that we do know, which may inform our decision-making during the next couple of weeks.

  *   DeVos Nomination Hearing. The Senate HELP Committee has not announced a firm date for Betsy DeVos's nomination hearing, but we tentatively expect the hearing to be held on Wednesday, January 11. Senate Democrats are pushing the majority to allocate at least two days for her hearing - and a handful of other nomination hearings - coupled with other administrative requests, including that cabinet nominees complete all required disclosures and ethics forms prior to their nomination hearings. Unless some unforeseen development occurs, we expect the committee to approve her nomination the week of January 16, followed by full Senate approval later in the month. Under filibuster rules changes by the Democrats in 2013, her confirmation will only require a simple majority, but the minority can still use filibuster procedures to require 30 hours of debate on the nomination (if they choose to "slow walk" the nomination).

  *   Transition Team Members.The president-elect's education policy transition team continues to expand. In addition to William Evers, Rob Goad, James Manning and Townsend McNitt, the formal and informal transition team now includes Josh Venable (FEE), Lauren Maddox (former A.S. Communications and Outreach @ U.S. Ed), Terrell Halaska (former A.S. for Leg Affairs, HCM Strategists Co-founder), Amy Jones (House Education and the Workforce Committee), and Robert Enlow (President of EdChoice).

  *   Education Authorizing Committee Membership. Senate HELP Committee leadership: Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).  House Education and the Workforce Committee Leadership: Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA). The Senate and House have not yet published the rank and file committee membership lists (they should be available this week), but we know that Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) will join the HELP Committee and that defeated Senator Kirk (R-IL) and retiring Senator Mikulski (D-MD) will not return to the committee.

  *   Overturning U.S. Department of Education Regulations. Senate and House Republican leaders plan to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn a number of recently approved regulations. Although a longer list of target regulations was recently published by the House Freedom Caucus, we expect Congress to use the CRA to target the following education regulations: (1) ESSA Accountability and State Planning; (2) HEA Title II Teacher Preparation Regulations; and (3) ESSA Supplement not Supplant. CRA resolutions are NOT subject to the Senate filibuster rules, but the minority is entitled to at least 10 hours of debate, which they will most likely use to prolong the repeal process. Please note that the CRA may be used to overturn only one set of regulations at a time (the House is expected to try to amend the CRA to permit "bundling" of regulations to speed the repeal process, but that type of statutory change is subject to the filibuster in the Senate and therefore would not likely be approved by the full Congress).

  *   House and Senate Education Committee Priorities. Chairman Alexander and Chairwoman Foxx plan to focus their committee agendas on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act and the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. This work will most likely unfold slowly given other committee responsibilities, including non-education policy matters. For example, the Senate HELP Committee will focus early time and attention on completing work on Betsy DeVos's nomination and confirming other nominees under the committee's jurisdiction (Labor and HHS). Each of these nominations will require the chairman's attention at the committee level and on the Senate floor.  In addition, Chairman Alexander and Chairwoman Foxx will also be responsible for managing the House and Senate floor debates related to application of the Congressional Review Act to the target regulations listed above.

  *   Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 Appropriations. Prior to adjourning last year, Congress approved a continuing resolution to keep the governments doors open through April 28. Although this step provided four months of breathing room for the new Congress, the Senate and House appropriations committees must begin working quickly to develop an agreement for finalizing the FY'17 process (possibly with a final continuing resolution through September 30), while beginning the FY'18 spending process.  This important work must also align with legislatively complex efforts underway in the House and Senate Budget Committees to use the budget reconciliation process to provide a filibuster-free legislative pathway for approving a repeal of the ACA and for making possible changes to tax and entitlement policies. In other words, education advocates must begin/continue working immediately to fight for education funding in both the FY'17 and '18 spending bills. This includes continuing planning for the May advocacy day, partnering with the SSAEG coalition, and preparing a SETDA FY'18 spending priorities letter for the new administration and Congress.
Courtesy of the State Educational Technology Director's Association (SETDA.org<http://www.setda.org/>).

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