This Week In Washington
Happy New Year!
The 116th Congress was officially sworn in yesterday ushering in a new era of divided government. Recall that during the mid-term elections, the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Republicans retained control of the Senate. The new Congress must immediately deal with the task of reopening significant portions of the federal government, as it has been partially shut down since December 22nd. Fortunately, the Fiscal Year 2019 education funding bill was already signed into law last year, so federal education programs (including federal financial aid programs) should not be affected. However, if this shutdown continues for any significant length, it could affect negotiations for next year’s funding bills.
With control of the House, the Democrats have renamed the education committee the House Committee on Education and Labor. This is always the case when Democrats are in control; while under Republican rule, the committee has long been called the Committee on Education and the Workforce. We will always refer to the committee by its official name, thus moving forward we will use the Education and Labor moniker. Previous posts have referred to the Education and the Workforce Committee, but they are the same committee.
In the Senate, there have been some membership changes to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. With the retirement of Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) and with Senator Todd Young (R-IN) leaving the committee, Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Mike Braun (R-IN) will replace them. On the Democratic side, Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) will be replaced by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
With the news late last year that Senate education chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will not seek reelection and new House education committee chairman Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) declaring that reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be a priority, we may see movement this Congress. Please take a moment to review our analysis of what the 116th Congress portends for higher education policy. We will keep you posted on any new developments in this space.
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Because the first few bills of a new Congress are almost exclusively reserved for Congressional leadership to file messaging or priority bills, no relevant education legislation has been recently introduced for consideration by the new 116th Congress (2019-2020).