AUCD Legislative News In Brief

May 19, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
   May 19, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 20
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Congressional Schedule

The House is in session and expected to work on authorization for the Department of Defense programs for FY15 and bills related to human trafficking. The Senate is also in session, with judicial and Federal Reserve nominations on the calendar for votes.


Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will hold a full committee session on May 22 regarding 302(b) allocations. These allocations divide the overall discretionary spending level to the 12 subcommittees in charge of drafting the 12 annual appropriations bills. The committee will also mark up appropriations bills for military construction/veterans affairs and agriculture programs. In the House, Chairman Rogers has already released his draft 302(b)s, see last week's In Brief.


The House committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a meeting tomorrow called "Examining the Federal Response to Autism Spectrum Disorders." Witnesses include Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute on Mental Health and Chair of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee; Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; and Marcia Crosse, Director of Health Care at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). This is not the same committee with jurisdiction over the Combating Autism Act.  That law is under the purview of the Energy and Commerce Committee. However, the reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act may come up during the hearing. The hearing will be live streamed and prepared witness testimony is available on the committee website.


The Senate held a second confirmation hearing for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Obama's nominee to succeed Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services. This hearing, before the Finance Committee, showed that her confirmation is likely as both Democratic and Republican members praised her credentials even while taking the opportunity to criticize parts of the Affordable Care Act. Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) said that he would seek a vote in the committee on her confirmation this week. To read about Burwell's first hearing before the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, see last week's In Brief.


On May 14, the Department of Education released guidance clarifying that charter schools - like all public schools - have a federal obligation to ensure that all children, regardless of race, national origin, sex, or disability status, receive a fair and equal opportunity to succeed. Charters have grown significantly in recent years and now make up nearly 6 percent of the nation's public schools - three times the number in 1999. Read the Department's letter on their website.

Social Security

On Wednesday, May 21, the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, chaired by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), will hold a hearing on "Strengthening Social Security to Meet the Needs of Tomorrow's Retirees." Witnesses will be: Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration; Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci, Chair of the Economics Department, New School for Social Research, The New School; Dr. Jason J. Fichtner, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University; Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President & CEO, Center for Global Policy Solutions.

Student Loans

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced a bill which would allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at lower interest rates. While many borrowers are currently paying back loans with rates up to 7 percent, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act passed last summer set interest rates on newly issued undergraduate federal loans at 3.86% (for more on this legislation see the August 19, 2013 In Brief). Senator Warren's Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act would allow borrowers to refinance their loans at that lower rate. Representatives John Tierney (D-MA) and George Miller (D-CA) plan to introduce companion bill in the House.

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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms.
For copies of this and previous issues of Legislative News In Brief please visit the Public Policy Page of the AUCD website:

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