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Legislative Update: Education Jobs Fund, Budget, For-Profit Schools

Education Jobs Fund Shrinking

The House will not take up the emergency was supplemental (which includes the education jobs fund) this week amid reports that Republicans plan to vote “present” on the bill, forcing Democrats to come up with 218 votes in support of the bill. The House has already cut the education jobs fund is down from $23 billion to $10 billion and will offset that spending, however none of that offset will come from ARRA education funds. Despite the offset, Republicans are now saying they will oppose the addition of education jobs fund or other provisions because they want to keep the supplemental just to war and disasters spending.

House Democrats Will Not Pass a Budget

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) announced on Tuesday that rather than passing a budget this year, the House plans to adopt a budget enforcement resolution, which would cut spending even more than the President requested in his budget earlier this year. Hoyer said that until the nation’s deficit is addressed, it “isn’t possible to debate and pass a realistic, long-term budget.” Hoyer wished to see recommendations from the President’s bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which has been charged with balancing the budget by 2015, before proposing a longer term budget. Recommendations are expected in December.

Senate Holds Hearing on For-Profit Schools

Yesterday the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held the first in a series of hearings to address the Federal investment in for-profit education and to find out what is happening to students who enroll in these schools. In his opening remarks, Chairman Tom Harkin (IA) unveiled “Emerging Risk?: An Overview of Growth, Spending, Student Debt and Unanswered Questions in For-Profit Higher Education” a report that investigates the Federal investment in for-profit schools and how these schools are using taxpayer dollars. It also identifies gaps in available information about enrollment, student performance, and loan debt and repayment. Harkin said, “We don’t know how many students graduate, how many get jobs, how schools that are not publicly traded spend their Title IV dollars, and how many for-profit students default over the long term. More broadly, we don’t know exactly what risk we are taking by investing an increasing share of our Federal financial aid dollars in this sector.”

Ranking Member Michael Enzi (WY) agreed that there are some “bad actors” among the for-profit schools, but made the point that “these schools are increasingly reaching more and more Americans who are not served by traditional higher education. They are an essential part of our efforts to provide every American with the skills necessary to be a valuable part of the workforce.” He also quoted Secretary Duncan who gave the keynote address at DeVry’s policy forum last month and said that “for-profit institutions play a vital role in training young people and adults for jobs. They are critical to helping America meet the President’s 2020 goal. They are helping us meet the explosive demand for skills that public institutions cannot always meet.”

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