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House Education & Workforce Committee

Committee Advances Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 12:00am
The House Education and the Workforce Committee today advanced three bipartisan bills to reform the nation’s higher education system. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the legislative proposals will support innovation, strengthen transparency, and enhance financial counseling.

“Today we made important progress in our effort to strengthen the nation’s higher education system,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “These bipartisan proposals will make a difference in the lives of students and families. My colleagues are to be commended for their hard work in making this a strong bipartisan endeavor. I look forward to House consideration of these proposals and the work that lies ahead.”

The approved bills reflect a number of key committee principles guiding the reauthorization process.

  • Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act. Introduced by Reps.  Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO), the bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3136) will provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education in a way that best serves their personal and financial needs.
    • The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
    • To learn more about the legislation, click here.
    • To read the bill text as approved by the committee, click here.
  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-IN), H.R. 4983 will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education.
    • The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
    • To learn more about the legislation, click here.
    • To read the bill text as approved by the committee, click here
  • Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), H.R. 4984 will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid.
    • The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
    • To learn more about the legislation, click here.
    • To read the bill text as approved by the committee, click here.

To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit

http://edworkforce.house.gov/highered/

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Kline Statement: Markup of H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, H.R. 4983, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, and H.R. 4984, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/10/2014 - 12:00am

Today the committee will consider a number of legislative proposals as part of its continued effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

A report released last month confirms once again the value of receiving a postsecondary education. Researchers at the New York Federal Reserve asked whether the benefits of college still outweigh the costs and their answer was a resounding “yes.” The researchers write that “for the average student, a college degree remains a good investment.”

Unfortunately, too many Americans are struggling to turn the dream of a postsecondary education into reality. For some the cost associated with earning a degree is simply too great. Others have a hard time fitting the traditional college experience into a busy lifestyle that may already include family, work, or both. And students that do graduate often struggle to launch their careers with a pile of debt in a weak economy.

We've said time and again that the answers to many of these challenges must ultimately come from states and institutions. States should maintain a robust commitment to higher education and promote policies that make it easier for schools to fulfill their mission. Institutions must be good stewards of the tuition dollars they receive and ensure students graduate with a valuable degree in hand.

However, as federal policymakers, we have a role to play as well. Improving our higher education system is a national priority, which is why we’ve made reauthorizing the Higher Education Act a leading committee priority. Over the last several years, the committee has convened 14 public hearings, examined the testimony of dozens of witnesses, and engaged in a bipartisan effort to gather public feedback on ways to strengthen the law.

It’s been a long process, but one that was highly informative. As a result of what we’ve learned, we put forward a series of principles to help guide the next steps of the reauthorization process. But these are more than just principles; they reflect the responsibilities we bear and the work that lies ahead.

First, we need to empower students and families to make informed decisions. Students and families should be able to access the best information in a format that is easy to understand, enabling them to make smart, more informed decisions about their education.

Second, we need to simplify and improve student aid. It’s time to pull students and families out of the maze of programs that foster confusion and uncertainty by streamlining federal aid. Doing so will help students receive a clearer picture of the assistance they will receive in a more timely manner.

Third, we need to promote innovation, access, and completion. Innovation is the key to giving families more affordable choices in higher education, especially at a time when contemporary students are dominating college campuses. Programs that encourage access need to be strengthened and we have to find ways to make sure students actually complete their college education.

Fourth, we need to provide strong accountability while maintaining a limited federal role. Protecting the taxpayers’ investment is one of our top concerns, but we should also be mindful that federal rules and reporting requirements create administrative costs and those costs are often passed on to students in the form of higher fees and tuition. We need to strike the right balance between providing strong accountability and responsible federal oversight.

These principles provide the best path forward to strengthen America’s higher education system, and the legislative proposals before us today will begin to turn these principles into concrete solutions. Today we have an opportunity to encourage more innovation, enhance transparency, and help students make wise financial decisions. All in all that is a good day’s work.

I want to thank my colleagues – both Republican and Democrat – for their hard work on these important issues. I also would like to thank my colleague, George Miller, and his staff for helping to make this meeting a bipartisan endeavor.

Finally, let me just note that today is one step in a larger process to reform the Higher Education Act. No doubt there is some skepticism about moving forward in what might be described as a piece-meal approach, but remember these are complicated issues. A step-by-step approach will better inform members and the public about the policies we are pursuing.

And just as important, this approach will also allow us to move the ball forward starting now. Let’s make progress where we can and begin to strengthen American higher education today.

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Overhaul of America’s Job Training Programs Headed to President’s Desk Following Strong Bipartisan Support from Congress

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 6:00pm
Legislation to update the Workforce Investment Act, overdue for reauthorization for more than a decade, is headed to the President’s desk following overwhelming bipartisan support from both houses of Congress. The Senate and House authors of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) applauded the passage of the bill, which seeks to update and improve the nation’s workforce development system. The legislation was approved today by a vote of 415 to 6 by the House of Representatives; it was approved by the Senate last month by a vote of 95 to 3 and will be signed into law by President Obama.
 
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs, helps workers attain skills for 21st century jobs, provides supports to people with disabilities to enter and remain in competitive, integrated job settings, and fosters the modern workforce that evolving American businesses rely on to compete. In addition to winning strong bipartisan support in both chambers, the bill is supported by a broad array of labor, business, workforce development leaders, and disability advocates, as well as governors and mayors from around the country. 

“Today is a good day for the American people. We’ve shown what’s possible when we work together toward a common goal and right now there is no greater goal than putting Americans back to work,” said Representative John Kline, Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral agreement will fix a broken job training system, help workers fill in-demand jobs, and protect taxpayers. I am proud to have helped lead this effort and want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their hard work. Let’s build off today’s achievement and continue working together on behalf of the American people.”

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act modernizes our workforce development system to ensure that all our workers can prepare for and fill 21st century jobs, including individuals with disabilities. It also makes groundbreaking changes that will raise prospects and expectations for Americans with disabilities so that they receive the skills and training necessary to succeed in competitive, integrated employment,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “Access to education, training, and employment services is critical to helping our workers secure good jobs, gain access to the middle class, and become economically self-sufficient, and this bill is part of the solution to the challenges facing our middle class. This bill represents the best of what Congress can accomplish when we work together and I urge President Obama to sign it into law as soon as possible.”
 
"Last year the federal government spent more than $145 million in Tennessee through a maze of programs trying to help Tennesseans find jobs, and this legislation simplifies that maze. This bill will help our nation’s workers gain the skills to find jobs and give governors and local workforce boards the freedom and flexibility to make job training meet their local needs,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee.
 
“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will update and improve our workforce training programs by aligning them with real-world labor market needs. This legislation will better connect job training programs with the needs of local employers, helping workers to learn the most in-demand skills and to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “I want to commend all my colleagues, and particularly Reps. Tierney and Hinojosa, for their commitment to and leadership on strengthening our nation’s workforce development system. For forty years, we have reauthorized these programs through bipartisan collaboration, and I am happy to see that tradition continue.”
 
“After receiving overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Senate, today’s vote in the House goes to show that both chambers of Congress are still capable of breaking through the gridlock and investing in American workers and the economy,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’ve seen firsthand that federal workforce programs can change lives, boost our economy, and get people back to work, but we can’t expect to adequately train Americans for jobs at Boeing or Microsoft with programs designed in the 1990s. Today, we can definitively say that both chambers of Congress agree, and I’m thrilled that this long overdue legislation is now headed for the President’s desk to become law.”
 
“Today’s vote is the culmination of a long process of legislating the old fashioned way: discussion, negotiation and compromise.  There is longstanding, bipartisan agreement that the current workforce development system is broken, and this bill turns that consensus into action,” said Representative Virginia Foxx. “The bipartisan, bicameral process through which The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was developed serves as an example of what we can accomplish when we work together.  This legislation is important for the millions of Americans who are looking for work and for the employers who have 4.6 million job opportunities that remain unfilled due to the skills gap.  Closing this gap will specifically improve the lives of many American job seekers, while generally helping our economy grow. I urge the President to sign this legislation without delay.”
 
“Workforce training is critically important to help grow the American economy still recovering from recession and bridge the widening skills gap separating thousands of unemployed workers from promising careers in 21st century workplaces,” said Senator Johnny Isakson. “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will provide millions of Americans the opportunity to receive the training and skills necessary to find a job and keep a job. I am extremely pleased that my colleagues in the House acted today to pass this bipartisan measure with overwhelming support, and I urge the president to swiftly sign this bill into law so we can continue making critical investments in American workers to meet the modern demands of businesses in a global environment.”
 
“I am pleased to see the bipartisan support as well as the overwhelming support from business groups, labor unions, state and local elected officials, community colleges, workforce boards, adult education providers, youth organizations, and civil rights groups for this bill,” said Representative Rubén Hinojosa. “In my district in South Texas we have seen how these programs are successful in training our workforce and getting our residents back into good paying jobs. Importantly, this bill includes several key provisions from ‘The Adult Education and Economic Growth Act,’ which I introduced. In the area of adult education, this bill integrates adult education and workplace skills, authorizes the integrated English Literacy and Civics education program for Adult learners, and expands access to postsecondary education.”
 
WIOA represents a compromise between the SKILLS Act (H.R. 803), which passed the House of Representatives in March of 2013 with bipartisan support, and the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 (S. 1356), which passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with a bipartisan vote of 18-3 in July of 2013.  A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here. The statement of managers, including a section-by-section summary of the legislation, can be found here. A summary of key improvements WIOA makes to current workforce development programs can be found here.  A full list of WIOA supporters can be found here.

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Video Release: Kline Urges Support for Bipartisan, Bicameral Job Training Reform Bill

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:00am

The House of Representatives today considered the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), legislation that will help put Americans back to work by reforming the nation’s outdated workforce development system.

During debate, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) described how the bipartisan agreement will protect taxpayers and help workers compete for in-demand jobs.
 

Men and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many have lost a job and others are working more for less. Learning a new skill or trade can open the door to that next opportunity a worker desperately needs, yet too often flawed policies stand in the way.

Quite frankly our nation’s job training system is broken. We have too many ineffective programs, too much bureaucracy, and very little accountability; the voices of job creators are stifled, state and local leaders are tied up in red tape, and hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted.

We’ve known about these problems for years, but have failed to act – until now. We have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce.
 

To read Chairman Kline’s full remarks, click here.

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/skillsact/.

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Kline Statement: H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 07/09/2014 - 12:00am

Men and women across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many have lost a job and others are working more for less. Learning a new skill or trade can open the door to that next opportunity a worker desperately needs, yet too often flawed policies stand in the way.

Quite frankly our nation’s job training system is broken. We have too many ineffective programs, too much bureaucracy, and very little accountability; the voices of job creators are stifled, state and local leaders are tied up in red tape, and hard-earned taxpayer dollars are wasted.
 
We’ve known about these problems for years, but have failed to act – until now. We have an opportunity to advance reforms that will help all Americans compete and succeed in today’s workforce.
 
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is based on four principles necessary for a modern, efficient, and effective job training system.
 
First, the bill streamlines a confusing maze of federal programs and mandates. Let’s make it easier for workers to access the support they need to get back to work.
 
Second, the bill promotes skills training for in-demand jobs. It’s time to prepare workers for the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past.
 
Third, the bill will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and administrative costs. We need to stop squandering money on a bloated bureaucracy and start ensuring these limited resources go to workers in need.
 
Fourth and finally, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides strong accountability over the use of taxpayer dollars. We will know whether the taxpayer investment is paying off and impose real consequences when a program isn’t getting the job done.
 
Last year, the House passed job training reform legislation known as the SKILLS Act. The bill incorporated these principles and I am pleased they are reflected in the bipartisan, bicameral agreement before us today. Is this a perfect solution? No, it’s not. In some areas I wish we could have done more.
 
But will this agreement protect taxpayers and deliver the kind of employment support workers need to get back on their feet? I believe it will and urge my colleagues to support it.
 
Before closing Mister Speaker, I’d like to thank some of my colleagues who helped make this possible.
 
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, chair of the workforce training subcommittee, is without a doubt the leading champion for a stronger, more accountable workforce development system.

Representative George Miller, senior Democrat on the Education and the Workforce Committee, is no stranger to this issue and remains a tireless advocate for America’s workers.

I am grateful for the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander, the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and hope this is one of many bicameral compromises we reach this year.

I’d also like to thank Representative Buck McKeon, former chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, as well as Representatives Ruben Hinojosa and Joe Heck.

And last but not least, Senator Patty Murray, and my good friend, Senator Johnny Isakson, were both instrumental in our work.
 
Finally Mister Speaker, we wouldn’t be here today without the hard work of our staff. The majority and minority staffs of the relevant House and Senate committees put in more hours than they care to remember.
 
Unfortunately, there isn’t time to recognize them all; however, a few stand out on our side of the aisle that merit mention.
 
Juliane Sullivan, the committee’s staff director, is a trusted advisor who helped us navigate the choppy waters that arose along the way.

Brad Thomas helped ensure the bill addresses the unique needs of Americans with disabilities.
 
James Bergeron, our former director of education policy, left the committee before this compromise was announced, but his knowledge and expertise are present on every page of this agreement.
 
And finally, Rosemary Lahasky, whose passion and dedication kept this effort moving forward when it seemed like it couldn’t get done. There simply aren’t enough words to describe Rosemary’s incredible contribution. We are all grateful for her service.

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Committee to Consider Legislation to Strengthen America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 07/08/2014 - 12:00am

On Thursday, July 10 at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will mark up the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136), the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983), and the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984). As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the committee markup will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, introduced by Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO), will foster competency-based education demonstration projects to provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education that fits their personal and financial needs. To learn more about the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, click here.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, introduced by Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), will help students and families make informed decisions about their higher education options. To learn more about the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, click here.

The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, click here.

To learn more about this markup, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/markups.

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Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 07/07/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

The cost of obtaining a college degree has risen dramatically over the past decade. For example, since 2002 in-state tuition and fees at public four-year and two-year institutions increased by 51 percent and 35 percent, respectively. During this same period of time, the cost of attending a private four-year institution increased by approximately 25 percent. To exacerbate rising college costs, there are federal roadblocks impeding efforts to provide a postsecondary education in a less costly, more effective way.

For example, regulators and institutions have traditionally used “credit hours” to measure student progress and disburse student aid. This model made sense when “seat time” was the best proxy for learning. However, today institutions are developing new models of education that can measure students’ actual learning rather than just the time spent in class. This type of innovation can offer students a wealth of new educational opportunities tailored to their specific personal and financial needs, yet outdated federal policies are standing in the way.

THE SOLUTION:

As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the House Education and the Workforce Committee is working to support more innovation across the nation’s college campuses. To this end, Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project (H.R. 3136). This bipartisan legislation will provide students new opportunities to receive a high-quality education in a way that best serves their personal and financial needs.

THE ADVANCING COMPETENCY-BASED EDUCATION DEMONSTRATION PROJECT ACT 

  • Promotes innovation in higher education by directing the Secretary of Education to implement competency-based education demonstration projects. The secretary is authorized to waiver current statutory and regulatory requirements that impede the creation of competency-based education programs. 
  • Provides accountability by requiring an annual evaluation of each demonstration project to determine program quality, the progress of participating students towards earning a degree, obstacles related to student financial assistance, and the extent to which other legal barriers may exist that prevent the success of competency-based education.
  • Delivers greater flexibility to institutions that want to provide students a more personalized, cost-effective education.

To read the bill text, click here.

To download this fact sheet, click here

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Committee Continues Oversight of Effort to Unionize Student Athletes

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 07/03/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders today joined a bicameral amicus brief to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as it considers whether to treat scholarship student athletes as “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act. The legal brief argues that college athletes are not employees under the law and treating student athletes as employees is unworkable:

As a matter of both national labor and educational policy, the Congressional Committee Members urge the Board to find that grant-in-aid scholarship football players are not employees… The profound and inherent differences between the student-university and employee-employer relationship makes employee status unworkable both as a matter of law and in practice. 

The amicus was signed by the following House and Senate leaders:

  • House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN);
  • Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC);
  • Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN); 
  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN);
  • Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee Ranking Member Johnny Isakson (R-GA); and 
  • Primary Health and Aging Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC).

The amicus brief follows a letter Chairman Kline sent to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert requesting information on the organization’s effort to address various challenges affecting student athletes. As Chairman Kline noted:

[At a recent committee hearing] a university president, athletic director, and former scholarship football student athlete made clear that unionization would hurt rather than help student athletes. However, witnesses raised a number of legitimate concerns surrounding college athletics that merit careful consideration…

The committee understands the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is taking steps to address these and other issues to improve college athletes’ education and experience. To further inform the committee, please identify all steps taken by the NCAA to address these issues and improve the collegiate experience of student athletes.

Background: On March 26, a NLRB regional director issued an unprecedented decision that scholarship football players at Northwestern University are “employees” under federal labor law. On April 25, Northwestern University football players voted on whether to unionize and the ballots from the election are impounded pending review by the full board. The committee held a hearing on May 8 to examine the impact of the NLRB’s decision on student athletes and their pursuit of higher education. Members discussed the challenges facing student athletes and the troubling consequences of treating these students as “employees” under federal labor law.

To read the amicus, click here.

To read Chairman Kline’s letter to the NCAA, click here.

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Committee Leaders Issue Joint Statement in Response to PBGC Financial Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Education and the Workforce Committee Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA), Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Senior Democrat John Tierney (D-MA) issued the following joint statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its latest financial projections report:


The latest PBGC report confirms in stark detail the significant challenges confronting the multiemployer pension system. The systemic crisis we face threatens countless workers, employers, and retirees, and could ultimately harm American taxpayers, as well. We have an obligation to advance reforms that will modernize the system, encourage employer participation, protect taxpayers, and offer new tools to help rescue troubled plans. We continue to work together to find common ground and a responsible legislative solution. The American people deserve nothing less.

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Kline, Roe Applaud Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores: 

Religious freedom is a fundamental right our nation has always protected. No American should be punished by the federal government for refusing to violate his or her moral beliefs, yet that is precisely what the Obama administration sought to do. The Supreme Court is to be commended for reversing the administration’s assault on religious liberty and for safeguarding the First Amendment protections we hold dear. 

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Left Turn: Supreme Court Rebukes President Obama

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:00am
In a resounding rebuke of President Obama, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision yesterday declaring the president’s 2012 non-recess recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board unconstitutional. In response to the high court’s ruling, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) said:

The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress​. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.

Unprecedented indeed. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

The Supreme Court handed President Obama his 13th unanimous loss in two years on Thursday, and this one may be the most consequential. All nine Justices voted to overturn Mr. Obama's non-recess recess appointments as an unconstitutional abuse of power.

Over nearly 238 years of American history, the Supreme Court has never had to review the President's authority to temporarily fill vacant executive offices when Congress is adjourned. Mr. Obama's 2012 maneuver to void the Senate's advice and consent role triggered a judicial intercession, and defeats at the High Court are seldom as total as this one…

But the true import of Noel Canning is that even liberal Justices are alarmed that Mr. Obama's executive law-making is visiting real damage on the Constitution. This will not be the last legal torpedo aimed at the hull of his increasingly willful Presidency.

The impact of this unconstitutional overreach extends beyond the Supreme Court’s hallowed chamber. Hundreds of decisions were issued by an unconstitutionally-appointed board and those decisions need to be reviewed. As Chairman Kline and Rep. Roe explained:

Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and women who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.

The committee intends to closely follow the NLRB’s response to the court’s decision to ensure the rights of those individuals harmed by the president’s unconstitutional action are protected.

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Committee Members Introduce Legislation to Strengthen America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:30pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee members today introduced the first in a series of legislative proposals to reform the nation’s higher education system. The bills were introduced following the release earlier this week of a committee white paper outlining key principles for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

“I want to thank all of my colleagues for their hard work crafting these commonsense proposals, and am pleased to see bipartisan consensus starting to emerge,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “We are committed to strengthening America’s higher education for students, families, and taxpayers. The legislation introduced today will begin to help improve a system that is too bureaucratic, too costly, and outdated. I look forward to continuing to move this process forward in the coming weeks as we look to keep the dream of postsecondary education within reach for all Americans.” 

The committee outlined in its white paper a number of principles that will guide the HEA reauthorization process, including simplifying and improving student aid and empowering students and families to make informed decisions. The legislation introduced today reflects these important principles for reform: 

  • Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. Introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA), H.R. 4982 will reform the federal student aid process to help students make timely financial decisions about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here

  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luck Messer (R-IN), H.R. 4983 will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here

  • Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), H.R. 4984 will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the legislation, click here. 

To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/HigherEd.

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Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

Across the country, tuition costs continue to go up and the job prospects many graduates face remain bleak. It has never been more critical for individuals to make responsible choices regarding how to pay for their postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many students are simply not equipped to make sound financial choices about their college careers. It’s not surprising considering the confusing maze of loan and grant programs students must navigate at the state and federal levels, not to mention assistance available at each institution and within the private sector.

Additionally, many students never receive meaningful financial literacy assistance as they try to review their options to pay for college. A survey of current students and recent graduates with a high level of student loan debt found that more than 40 percent could not recall having received financial counseling, even though counseling is already required before students can receive their first federal loan. Current policies are failing to equip individuals to make wise financial decisions. As a result, many students graduate unable to manage the loans they used to finance their education, leading to significant hardship for borrowers and greater risk for taxpayers.

THE SOLUTION:

To help students make smart decisions about financing their higher education, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. As part of a broader effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the legislation will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid.

EMPOWERING STUDENTS THROUGH ENHANCED FINANCIAL COUNSELING ACT:

  • Ensures students who participate in the federal loan program receive interactive counseling each year and when they exit their education program. The counseling students receive must reflect their individual borrowing situation.
  • Provides awareness about the financial obligations students are accumulating by requiring borrowers to consent each year before receiving federal student loans.
  • Informs low-income students about the terms and conditions of the Pell Grant program through annual counseling that will be provided to all grant recipients.
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to maintain and disseminate a consumer-tested, online counseling tool institutions can use to provide annual loan counseling, exit counseling, and annual Pell Grant counseling to their students.

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act will deliver students the tools and information they need to borrow and repay their student loans in a responsible way.

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Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

Despite repeated attempts to enhance transparency in the higher education system, students and families still struggle to access important information that will assist in their search for the right college or university. The federal government provides financial assistance for millions of students to use at the institution of their choice. Yet students and families face a deluge of data that often provides little to no useful information as they try to make this important decision.

To make matters worse, data that is available often ignores a large portion of students enrolled in the postsecondary education system or fails to capture crucial information students and families need to view the entire landscape of higher education. Despite numerous initiatives underway at the federal level that are supposed to provide clarity to prospective students, these efforts often add more confusion and uncertainty by presenting conflicting information with limited opportunity to compare different education options.

THE SOLUTION:

To help provide students and families with the information they need to make smart decisions about higher education, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, this proposal would improve consumer information to provide a more complete picture of all student populations, streamline existing transparency efforts at the federal level to reduce confusion for students, and require better coordination by federal agencies to avoid duplication and confusion.

STRENGTHENING TRANSPARENCY IN HIGHER EDUCATION ACT:

  • Requires the Secretary of Education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard that would display only key information students need when deciding which school to attend.
  • Ensures the College Dashboard includes information on the completion rates of all students, including contemporary students and Pell Grant recipients.
  • Instructs the Secretary of Education to provide a link to the page of each institution listed on a student’s FAFSA to make sure students know this information is available.
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to coordinate with other federal agencies to ensure all published higher education data is consistent with the information available on the College Dashboard.
  • Streamlines and eliminates unnecessary information and federal transparency initiatives.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act will take an important step toward strengthening the higher education system by improving transparency and ensuring all students have access to the information they need to make the best decision about their education.

To read the bill text, click here

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Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

For many students and families, federal financial aid makes a postsecondary education possible. The time when a family begins the process of applying for financial aid is critical to ensuring students access the full range of assistance available to them. Unfortunately, the current process is not serving the best interests of students and families. A student’s application process starts when he or she submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who wish to enroll in fall classes are encouraged to begin applying for aid in January. However, the FAFSA relies on income tax data from the previous year that is not readily available at the time students should start filling out their applications.

This flawed process results in significant delays in the submission of FAFSA forms, which leaves financial aid administrators little time to put together aid packages for incoming students. More importantly, students do not learn in a timely manner what their financial aid packages will ultimately be, which makes it more difficult to plan for the cost of their education. Some students may even miss opportunities to receive state and institution-based aid as these limited resources are often awarded on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Further complicating matters is an overly complex FAFSA form. The current application runs 10 pages long and includes 108 questions on topics such as income, expenses, family size, and assets. Some families are so overwhelmed they fail to apply, which disqualifies students from aid they may otherwise be eligible to receive.

THE SOLUTION:

To streamline and improve the student aid application process, Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the bipartisan legislation will help students make timely financial decisions about their education.

SIMPLIFYING THE APPLICATION FOR STUDENT AID ACT:

  • Allows students to use family income data from two years prior to the date of the FAFSA application. This process will help students apply for financial aid earlier so they can better prepare for their college costs.
  • Establishes a link between the online FAFSA form and income tax data stored by the Internal Revenue Service to automatically input income data into the FAFSA form, reducing the need to manually input information that often prevents low-income students from applying for aid.
  • Strengthens the integrity of federal financial aid by providing institutions more time to verify the income of their students.

The Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act will help students access the full range of federal financial aid to turn their dreams of a postsecondary education into reality.

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