Federal Relations

OVERVIEW

On January 3, 2013, the 113th United States House of Representatives opened the session by re-electing Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as House speaker. The Republicans remain in control of the House with 234 Members, Democrats make up 199 Members and there are 2 vacancies. There are 84 freshmen in the 113th Congress, 35 Republicans (32 men, 3 women) and 47 Democrats (33 men, 14 women). Fourteen of those freshmen represent districts in California: Ami Bera (D), Julia Brownley (D), Tony Cardenas (D), Jared Huffman (D), Alan Lowenthal (D), Gloria McCloud (D), Scott Peters (D), Raul Ruiz (D), Eric Swalwell (D), Mark Takano (D), Juan Vargas (D), Paul Cook (R), Doug La Malfa (R), and David Valadao (R).
                                                                                       Jan 2013 (PDF)

OVERVIEW

As the Legislature continues to introduce bills, we expect to identify more measures that affect community colleges through the bill introduction deadline on Friday, February 22, 2013. We are currently tracking about 120 bills on our legislative matrix, and expect that number to increase and approach 200. A number of the recently introduced measures are "spot" bills and may be substantially revised in the coming weeks. At this early stage in the legislative session, we are researching recently introduced bills to find out the issue that the Assemblymember or Senator is addressing, and determine the measures that we should prioritize for analysis, and later for a position. The attached matrix is in priority order, and brief summaries are provided below. As we analyze and research bills, our priority measures may change.                                                                                          Feb 2013 (PDF)

OVERVIEW

In August 2011, as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), bipartisan majorities in both the House of Representatives and Senate voted for sequestration as a mechanism to compel Congress to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The threat of destructive across-the-board cuts under the BCA was intended to drive both sides to compromise. A year and a half later Congress and the President failed to agree on balanced deficit reduction legislation to avoid sequestration.
                                                                                    March 2013 (PDF) 

OVERVIEW

U.S. House of Representatives 2014 Budget Resolution
Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the House of Representative’s 2014 Budget Resolution on March 12, 2013. The House went on to approve this budget in a 221-207 vote, with only 10 Republicans voting against it. The House Budget plans on balancing the Budget by 2023 without raising taxes. Major spending cuts would be put in place which would reduce the U.S. deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years. In fiscal year 2014, the House Budget has set a government spending cap of $966 billion of which $414 billion will be the cap for nondefense discretionary funding.
                                                                                       April 2013 (PDF) 

OVERVIEW

Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act
The Higher Education Act of 1965, which is reauthorized by Congress every five years, expires at the end of 2013. So in preparation for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce issued a letter addressed to higher education stakeholders asking to provide the committee with feedback on important higher education issues.
                                                                                      May 2013 (PDF) 

OVERVIEW

Immigration Reform Bills
On June 11, 2013 the Senate voted on S. 744 sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to move forward on immigration reform. This bipartisan legislation drafted by 4 Democratic and 4 Republican Senators known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act includes expanding provisions of the DREAM Act. Under S. 744, as it pertains to the DREAM Act would remove the age cap for eligibility, repeals the current federal law that limits states' options to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students, and allows DREAM Act students to qualify for federal loans and work-study programs. In its current form, the bill has caused some concerns from the GOP to strengthen the legislation's border security provisions even further, so an influx of amendments are expected to be offered up in the upcoming weeks.
                                                                                      June 2013 (PDF) 

OVERVIEW

Immigration Reform Bills
On June 11, 2013 the Senate voted on S. 744 sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) to move forward on immigration reform. This bipartisan legislation drafted by 4 Democratic and 4 Republican Senators known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act includes expanding provisions of the DREAM Act. Under S. 744, as it pertains to the DREAM Act would remove the age cap for eligibility, repeals the current federal law that limits states' options to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students, and allows DREAM Act students to qualify for federal loans and work-study programs. In its current form, the bill has caused some concerns from the GOP to strengthen the legislation's border security provisions even further, so an influx of amendments are expected to be offered up in the upcoming weeks.
                                                                                      July 2013 (PDF) 

OVERVIEW

Student Interest Rate Bill Signed Into Law

After months of deliberation, H.R. 1911, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, was signed into law by President Obama on August 9th. For Federal Direct Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans issued to undergraduate students the interest rate is equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury bond note plus 2.05 percent and is capped at 8.25 percent. For Graduate Stafford loans the rate is equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury bond plus 3.6 percent and is capped at 9.5 percent. For Federal Direct PLUS Loans the rate is equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury bond note plus 4.6 percent and is capped at 10.5 percent. The new interest rates apply to loans where the first disbursement is made on or after July 1, 2013 and all interest rates will be fixed for the life of the loan.
                                                                                    August 2013 (PDF) 

OVERVIEW

Student Interest Rate Bill Signed Into Law
After months of deliberation, H.R. 1911, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, was signed into law by President Obama on August 9th. For Federal Direct Stafford Loans and Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans issued to undergraduate students the interest rate is equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury bond note plus 2.05 percent and is capped at 8.25 percent. For Graduate Stafford loans the rate is equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury bond plus 3.6 percent and is capped at 9.5 percent. For Federal Direct PLUS Loans the rate is equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury bond note plus 4.6 percent and is capped at 10.5 percent. The new interest rates apply to loans where the first disbursement is made on or after July 1, 2013 and all interest rates will be fixed for the life of the loan.
                                                                                  Sept 2013 (PDF)

Government Shutdown
On October 1, 2013 the 2014 fiscal year started without an enacted appropriations bill or continuing resolution to fund the United States government, thereby forcing the government to "shut down" for an indefinite period of time. This shutdown is largely due to the Administration and Congress unable to agree on funding levels and policy issues. The main policy issue being that the Republicans, having failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as "Obamacare") through legislation, instead want to defund the ACA by killing it through the budget process. The Administration prefers and expects a continuing resolution without affecting the ACA. During the first week of the shutdown, the U.S. Department of Education was forced to furlough 90 percent of their approximately 4,225 full and part-time staff. Students receiving Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans are not affected because those programs are funded through multi-year and ongoing appropriations from Congress. Although without staff, students and institutions will not be provided with technical assistance if any issues arise; this also goes for other federal programs such as Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, TRIO, Title III, and Title IV. If the shutdown continues the department may phase-in more employees if it is critically necessary. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has continued to process and distribute Veterans’ education benefits. Through the end of October those funds are available to ensure claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue; however, in the event of a prolonged shutdown those funds will be exhausted. Until the shutdown is resolved, the previously scheduled Congressional hearings have been postponed and the October 21st through 23rd negotiated rulemaking session on Gainful Employment may be delayed.
                                                                             

OVERVIEW

Government Shutdown
On October 1, 2013 the 2014 fiscal year started without an enacted appropriations bill or continuing resolution to fund the United States government, thereby forcing the government to "shut down" for an indefinite period of time. This shutdown is largely due to the Administration and Congress unable to agree on funding levels and policy issues. The main policy issue being that the Republicans, having failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as "Obamacare") through legislation, instead want to defund the ACA by killing it through the budget process. The Administration prefers and expects a continuing resolution without affecting the ACA. During the first week of the shutdown, the U.S. Department of Education was forced to furlough 90 percent of their approximately 4,225 full and part-time staff. Students receiving Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans are not affected because those programs are funded through multi-year and ongoing appropriations from Congress. Although without staff, students and institutions will not be provided with technical assistance if any issues arise; this also goes for other federal programs such as Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, TRIO, Title III, and Title IV. If the shutdown continues the department may phase-in more employees if it is critically necessary. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has continued to process and distribute Veterans’ education benefits. Through the end of October those funds are available to ensure claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue; however, in the event of a prolonged shutdown those funds will be exhausted. Until the shutdown is resolved, the previously scheduled Congressional hearings have been postponed and the October 21st through 23rd negotiated rulemaking session on Gainful Employment may be delayed.