Washington Insights & Highlights
March 29, 2019
Congressional Update

CGS Supports the Dream and Promise Act

On March 20, CGS signed onto a community letter to Congressional leaders in support of H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, including those who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Among the requirements that would lead to eligibility for lawful permanent resident status is completion of at least two years at a U.S. higher education institution. The bill also includes eligibility for federal financial aid.

On Tuesday, March 26, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced the Dream Act, which would also provide a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. CGS joined the higher education community in supporting this bill when it was introduced in 2017.

Until a legislative solution is reached, several federal court orders require the Administration to continue implementing DACA. In the meantime, the long-term status of recipients remains unclear.

Budget and Appropriations Work Continues

Congress will continue to develop Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending bills this spring. CGS’s FY 2020 Appropriations chart, which highlights funding levels for education and research programs of interest, will be updated as the process moves forward.

This week, several agency heads responsible for higher education, science, and research testified before Congressional Committees. The House and Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittees held hearings on the Department of Education’s FY 2020 budget request. Members of both committees expressed concern with proposed cuts to student aid programs, elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the department’s proposed regulations on Title IX campus sexual assault, and borrower-defense implementation.

On Tuesday, March 26, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Cordova testified before the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee. Members of the panel, from both sides of the aisle, voiced serious concerns on proposed cuts to the number of grants NSF will be able to fund as well as its ability to invest in higher education and training. The impacts on the science and technology workforce and U.S. innovation and competitiveness were also discussed.

Both House and Senate Appropriations Energy-Water Subcommittees also held hearings on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) FY 2020 budget request, where members questioned the Administration’s proposed cuts to the DOE Office of Science and the elimination of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E).

Additionally, the Senate Budget Committee held a two-day markup of its FY 2020 budget resolution, although it is unclear whether it will be brought to the floor for a vote. House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) has not yet indicated whether his panel will markup up a budget resolution this year. However, preliminary discussions have started on a bipartisan, bicameral deal to raise the budget caps to avoid across the board cuts to discretionary spending. Appropriators are again considering combining the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills, which were successfully packaged together last year. The House Appropriations Committee aims to start marking up bills in late April or early May.

Lastly, this week, the House failed to override the President’s veto of a disapproval resolution to block the national emergency declaration to build a wall on the southern border, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed. The fight over this executive action is now likely to move to the courts.

Student Loan Actions in Congress

On Monday, March 25, CGS submitted a statement for the record in a House Education and Labor Committee hearing titled, “The Cost of College: Student Centered Reforms to Bring Higher Education Within Reach.” The testimony urges the committee to maintain and not place borrowing limits on the Grad PLUS loan program, voices support for a proposal allowing Pell to be used towards graduate studies, and calls for enhancing other student aid and repayment programs.

On Wednesday, March 27, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced several bipartisan bills that would provide more information to borrowers regarding financial aid available to them. The Understanding the True Cost of College Act would require institutions of higher education to use a standardized template when communicating financial aid packages to students and families. The Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act would make student loan counseling an annual requirement before new loans are disbursed rather than just for first-time borrowers. CGS continues to advocate for the provision of better, more transparent information to students around their federal financial aid options as a way to help them make more informed choices when funding their education.

Bipartisan Bill Would Expand Federal Work Study

On March 15, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced legislation that aims to expand the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. The Classrooms to Careers Act would allow students participating in FWS to work full-time hours in a work-study position and would better align the work with their field of study. It would allow FWS to also fund full-time, off-campus, cooperative education programs. Currently, graduate students with a financial need are eligible for the program.

Bill Would Eliminate Student Unit Record Ban

On March 14, a bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), reintroduced the College Transparency Act (S.800), which would overturn the federal ban on student-level data. The legislation would produce new data on program-level college student outcomes such as earnings and loan repayment. This is one of several bipartisan bills that could be included in the Senate’s reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Contact Us
Lauren Inouye
Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs
Kenneth Polishchuk
Senior Manager of Public Policy and Government Affairs
Council of Graduate Schools
One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 230
Washington, DC  20036