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Legislative Update: Budget Conference Committee to Reconvene Next Week

Capitol

Budget conferees have scheduled their next meeting for Wednesday, November 13th to continue negotiations over the federal budget. As we shared last week, the committee was created as part of the agreement which ended the most recent government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling. Led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) respectively, the conferees are tasked with reconciling the House and Senate budgets— proposals that would fund the federal government at very different levels.

The committee is also grappling with sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA), which many members of Congress have expressed interest in repealing, delaying, or at the very least mitigating. However, Democrats and Republicans are still at odds over how to accomplish this common goal. Many Democrats would like to raise additional tax revenue to pay for changes to sequestration, while Republicans want to offset these costs with spending reductions elsewhere. As the committee looks for a solution to sequestration, it is important to highlight the continued negative impact these across-the-board cuts have had on federal investments in education— specifically Career Technical Education (CTE). Now is the time to engage your member of Congress ahead of these difficult negotiations, to reiterate the importance of CTE programs to students across the country.

Please check our blog for updates as these negotiations continue to unfold.

Gainful Employment Rulemaking Committee Reschedules

Earlier this year, the Department of Education announced its intention to create a negotiated rulemaking committee to establish stricter standards regarding “gainful employment” for vocational education programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. As we shared last year, a previous attempt by the Department of Education to create rules regarding debt repayment and “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” were struck down by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. However, the ruling did acknowledge the Department’s authority to establish rules pertaining to gainful employment and this committee is the latest effort to do so.

Composed of 15 members from for-profit institutions, community colleges, and other relevant stakeholders, the committee began negotiations in early September. Another meeting was slated to follow in mid-October, but the shutdown of the federal government forced the Department to reschedule. The committee is now scheduled to meet on November 18th to continue negotiations on possible new regulations which could impact how federal student aid programs under title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) are distributed to community colleges and for-profit institutions of higher education. More information on this process and supplemental materials can be found here.

Steve Voytek, Government Relations Associate 

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