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High-Speed Rail Authority and Women Construction Owners & Executives Sign Memorandum of Understanding

WCOE News - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 2:12pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) today joined the Women Construction Owners & Executives (WCOE) in a major effort to maximize small business participation, especially those owned by women, on the high-speed rail system.   During a special ceremony on Capitol Hill at the WCOE National Conference, Authority Board of Directors Chairman Dan Richard and WCOE President Lee Cunningham signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that ensures women-owned construction firms and female construction executives are aware of, and prepared for, job opportunities on the project.

The Authority Board of Directors is keenly aware of the need to help small businesses, especially those that employ women or are owned by women. Board Member Katherine Perez-Estolano co-founded a company that crafts environmentally friendly solutions to create vibrant communities and Board Member Thea Selby is the owner of a digital marketing and communications firm.

“There are almost eight million women-owned firms in the United States and their numbers are growing all the time,” Authority Board Chair Dan Richard said. “As they gain experience, studies show women are running businesses more efficiently and looking to expand at earlier stages than they did before. Providing a pathway to the high-speed rail project will help drive that business model and help improve the lives of women and their families along with those they employ and supervise.”

“WCOE grows contacts, contracts and the bottom line for women in construction. That is why I am so excited about the MOU,” declared WCOE President Lee Cunningham, who also sits on the Authority’s Business Advisory Council and owns BT Metal Sales & Fabrication. “Our sole mission is to level the playing field for women contractors and female construction executives. Our partnership with the Authority will allow us to do just that and open the door for opportunities for women on the largest infrastructure project in the nation.”

The MOU outlines the Authority and WCOE’s joint outreach efforts to strengthen and expand the utilization of women-owned firms and women construction executives on the high-speed rail project. The Authority and WCOE will exchange information and material to improve awareness of the project and have made a strong commitment to facilitating joint education and training programs that will benefit women-owned companies and female construction executives.

Small businesses are playing a major role on the high-speed rail project through the Authority’s aggressive Small Business Program. It calls for a 30 percent goal for small business participation which includes a 10 percent goal for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and a three percent goal for Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE).

Categories: Latest News

Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: A Final Word on Enchantment

InteroMojo - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 9:15am

As we finish our discussion on Guy Kawasaki’s book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, I thought I’d leave you with some more great take-aways on how to be a more enchanting person.  As Guy says in his conclusion of the book “Enchantment is a powerful skill, and with power comes responsibility.  It’s your duty to use these skills in a manner that benefits all the parties involved, if not the world.  Please keep this thought in mind as you go forth.  Be well, do good, and kick butt.”

  1. It takes 2 muscles to make an enchanting smile.
  2. You should dress equally to people you want to enchant.
  3. Launch a cause using the following methods: tell a story, plant a seed, ask people what they’re going to do, and reduce the number of choices.
  4. When you meet a person for the first time, default to a yes attitude and determine how you can help him.
  5. The five qualities of a great cause are deep, intelligent, complete, empowering and elegant.
  6. The qualities of good messaging are short, sweet, and swallowable.
  7. Ease of use, immediacy of starting, low cost of trial and reversibility of trial encourage someone to try out your product.
  8. You should disclose any conflicts of interest at the very start of a relationship.
  9. Creating the perception of ubiquity and scarcity, finding a bright spot, and showing people your magic cannot help overcome resistance to a cause.
  10. When people thank you for a favor, the optimal response is “I know you’d do the same for me.”
  11. A homogeneous team will not make enchantment endure.
  12. The ideal format of a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation is ten slides, twenty minutes, and thirty point font.
  13. The ideal length of an enchanting YouTube video is sixty seconds.
  14. You should not practice the Japanese concept of Bakatare.
  15. You should heed the crowd when they represent a diverse background, everyone’s opinion is considered, and there are incentives that encourage only people with insight to participate.
  16. You can virtually guarantee enchanting an audience at the beginning of a speech by showing pictures of what enchants you about their city.
  17. You should not ask your employees to do what you wouldn’t do if you would like to enchant them.
  18. If you ever want me to stay in your hotel, you should not charge a fee to make a reservation.
  19. The most important thing you can do to enchant your boss is drop everything and do what your boss asks first.
  20. Do not count on Twitter to be reliable.
Categories: Latest News

Following Pressure from Thune, EU Delays Illegitimate Tax on International Flights

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, commended the members of the European Parliament on their decision to extend the moratorium on aviation emission taxes from being collected on flights into and out of the European Union (EU) through 2016.

“This action by the European Parliament reaffirms the strong international opposition to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS),” said Thune. “Through the enactment of my legislation in 2012 and the work of the U.S. delegatio...

Obamacare’s 30-Hour Full-Time Workweek Definition Is Harming Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 12:00am

The House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) released the following statement ahead of today’s House vote on the Save American Workers Act (HR 2575):
 
“The health law’s 30-hour full-time workweek definition is weakening America’s workforce culture and standards,” said Chairman Graves. “We have seen the consequences of this full-time definition take hold and none of it is good for our economy. Not only have small businesses been burdened by requirements that increases their health care costs, but also many workers’ hours have been cut, causing more harm to Americans who can least afford it in an already tough job climate. Small businesses overwhelmingly support the repeal of this definition, and I call on the Senate to take up the Save American Workers Act.”
 
The Save American Workers Act would repeal the 30-hour definition of full-time employment in the health care law. Small businesses oppose this definition and its implications on the American work culture. Here are a few comments the Committee has received from small business owners:
 
Steven Hermann, Vice President of Paul's Supermarket, Inc. in Eldon, Missouri, said during the Committee’s October 9, 2013 hearing titled, The Effects of the Health Law's Definitions of Full-Time Employee on Small Businesses, “Employers, such as myself, very much want to continue providing quality benefits to our full-time employees, recognizing that a healthy employee is a productive employee. However, many businesses simply cannot afford to provide coverage to workers who average 30 hours per week. Thus, small business owners will have to make tough choices and many part-time employees will face reduced hours and smaller paychecks."
 
Rebecca Lloyd, a small business owner from Oneonta, New York, told our Committee last year through our interactive website Small Biz Open Mic, “We need to grow to stay competitive and yet when we grow the consequences of the ACA will financially harm us. We offer health care options to all full time employees (40 hours per week). The ACA will require us to offer benefits to all 30 hour employees as well as all seasonal employees. Our season is 8-9 months. The reduced headcount limits our manufacturing potential and consequently our sales.”
 
Stephen Bienko, President and Owner of Bienko Enterprises Moving Line in Fairfield, New Jersey, said during the Committee’s October 9, 2013 hearing, “I have offered my full-time team members health coverage even without the employer mandate, and I have every intention of continuing that coverage, even as I continue to expand my business. However, the increased cost of doing business by providing coverage to employees with fluctuating schedules that only occasionally put them into full-time status will leave me no choice but to scale back my expansion plans. Not only has the employer mandate discouraged job creation and business expansion, it has also damaged existing jobs by including a misguided statutory requirement that discarded more than a half-century of established labor policy by now defining “full-time” as 30 hours per week.”

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VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Urges Support for the Save American Workers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 5:00pm

This week the House of Representatives is considering the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), bipartisan legislation to repeal the health care law’s 30-hour definition of “full-time” employment and restore the traditional 40-hour work week.

Moments ago House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) highlighted stories from across the country that document how the so-called “30-hour rule” is undermining our nation’s education system.

 

Helieanna, from St. Anthony, Minnesota described her dream to teach at the school she once attended as a student. While that dream may have come true, she wrote that her “financial situation is less stable” than it was before the health care law.

Kate from Hemet, California informed the committee that her community college would have to restrict workers’ hours, noting “this impacts our ability to properly serve students.”

Secretary Sebelius once dismissed concerns about jobs lost and hours cut under ObamaCare as “speculation.” Yet for Helieanna, Kate, and countless others, the health care law is wreaking havoc on their families, their livelihood, and their schools. It’s time to do something about it.

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State Attorneys General Advance Their Citizens’ Interests in Supreme Court Foreign Debt Case

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 4:58pm
In the long-running legal battle between Argentina and its “holdout” bondholders, each side has been seeking to line up high-profile allies in pending Supreme Court proceedings.  Last week, a few foreign governments filed amicus curiae briefs in the Court in support of Argentina.  Today, the bondholders lined up what may prove to be a more […]
Categories: Latest News

Kline Statement: H.R. 2575, the Save American Workers Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 4:00pm

I have the privilege of serving as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. As the name suggests, the committee has broad jurisdiction over policies affecting our nation’s classrooms and workplaces. It goes without saying that both face difficult challenges today.

Budget constraints continue to plague states, school districts, and institutions of higher education, straining their ability to effectively serve students. Workers and job creators are still struggling in a persistently anemic economy, making it difficult for many Americans to pay the bills and provide for their families.

Unfortunately, the health care law is making things worse. Thanks to the president’s government-run health care scheme, full-time jobs are being destroyed, not created; health care costs are going up, not down; and millions of individuals are losing the health care plan they like, instead of keeping it as they were promised.

This reality isn’t limited to just private businesses; it’s a reality unfolding in schools, colleges, and universities across the country. Recent headlines confirm in stark detail how the president’s health care law is hurting our education system:

  • From the Washington Free Beacon, “Alabama schools face shortage of substitute teachers due to ObamaCare;”

  • From the Weekly Standard, “Hours cut for 200 North Carolina teachers due to ObamaCare;”

  • And just in case I’m accused of selecting only conservative publications, from the New York Times, “Public sector capping part-time hours to skirt health care law.”

Aside from press reports, we have also heard first-hand accounts of how ObamaCare is making it harder for school leaders to meet the needs of students. In December the committee asked the public to share personal stories about the effects of the health care law on local classrooms and campuses.

Helieanna, from St. Anthony, Minnesota described her dream to teach at the school she once attended as a student. While that dream may have come true, she wrote that her “financial situation is less stable” than it was before the health care law.

Kate from Hemet, California informed the committee that her community college would have to restrict workers’ hours, noting “this impacts our ability to properly serve students.”

Secretary Sebelius once dismissed concerns about jobs lost and hours cut under ObamaCare as “speculation.” Yet for Helieanna, Kate, and countless others, the health care law is wreaking havoc on their families, their livelihood, and their schools. It’s time to do something about it.

By restoring the traditional standard of full-time work, the Save American Workers Act will help restore workers’ hours and allow them to earn the wages they deserve. And just as important, the legislation will provide relief for schools grappling with a flawed health care law.

Congress should not stand by while teachers have their hours cut and students receive diminished access to educational opportunities, all because of bad policies out of Washington.

I urge my colleagues to provide relief for our nation’s workplaces and classrooms by supporting the Save American Workers Act.

Before I yield back my time, I’d like to take a moment to recognize my friend and colleague Dave Camp, who announced earlier this week his plan to retire. During more than 20 years of service, Chairman Camp has been a distinguished member, a dedicated reformer, and a tireless champion of working families. He will be sorely missed in Congress, and I wish him and his family all the best in the years ahead.


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Patents for “Real Inventions with Computers”?: The High Court Hears Arguments in CLS Bank Case

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 3:43pm
Featured Expert Column — Patent Law Beth Z. Shaw, Brake Hughes Bellermann LLP On Monday, March 31, the Supreme Court heard argument in the much anticipated patent case Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International. The arguments focused on the scope of application of Section 101 to claims for a patent related to computer data processing. […]
Categories: Latest News

Small Business Review Panel: Medium- and Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard

Office of Advocacy - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 3:23pm
Page summary: 

EPA is preparing to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review panel to provide input and recommendations for its upcoming proposed rule on Medium- and Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard.  EPA seeks self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule requirements. Entities representing small entities may also serve.  Nominations are requested by April 16, 2014.

EPA is preparing to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review panel to provide input and recommendations for its upcoming proposed rule on Medium- and Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard.&n

read more

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Rockefeller: GM Recall and NHTSA's Response are Deeply Frustrating and Outrageous

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller today issued prepared remarks for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance hearing titled, "Examining the GM Recall and NHTSA's Defect Investigation Process." Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thune, Rubio Demand Answers from Administration on Internet Transition

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 33 of their Senate Republican colleagues today sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), seeking clarification regarding the recent announcement that NTIA intends to relinquish responsibility of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions to the global multistakeholder community.

The letter expresses strong support for “the existing bottom-up, multistakeholder approach t...

Examining the GM Recall and NHTSA's Defect Investigation Process

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance will hold a hearing on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. titled, “Examining the GM Recall and NHTSA’s Defect Investigation Process,” chaired by Consumer Protection Subcommittee chair Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). This hearing will examine General Motors’ (GM) announcement in February of a safety recall affecting 1.6 million vehicles for defective ignition switches that have caused at least 12 deaths. In particular, the hearing will focus on GM’s decisions over a more than 10-year period to not issue a safety recall and will consider whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the capability, data, and resources to effectively monitor vehicle safety defects.

Committee Explores Risks and Benefits of Bitcoin Use by Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am
The Small Business Committee, under the chairmanship of Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), today examined Bitcoin adoption by small businesses. In the first Bitcoin hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee heard testimony on the potential risks and benefits involved.

Bitcoins are a form of virtual currency first introduced in 2008 that allows users to exchange value digitally through the Internet. Despite not being backed by a government or holding any intrinsic value of their own, Bitcoins are growing as an alternative payment system. Testimony today provided valuable insight on Bitcoins, their current and future use, and whether small businesses have more to gain or lose by embracing this trend.

“Rapid changes in technology such as Bitcoin can create both opportunities and risks for small business. We want to help small businesses navigate this issue by providing information to help them with these considerations,” said Chairman Graves. “I’m pleased with our thorough discussion of this alternative payment method. Today’s examination of Bitcoin’s potential pitfalls and advantages added to the Committee’s knowledge base, and will inform Congress’s decision-making as virtual currencies are more widely used and come under greater regulatory scrutiny.”

Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.

Notable Quotes:

Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, Arlington, VA, said, “Like the Internet itself, Bitcoin has the potential to be a platform for the kind of permissionless innovation that has driven so much of the growth of our economy. And like all emerging technologies, Bitcoin also presents risks. The challenge for policymakers is to address those risks while doing no harm to the innovative potential of the technology.”

Adam White, Director of Business Development and Sales, Coinbase, San Francisco, CA, said, “Because of the borderless and global nature of Bitcoin, a Bitcoin payment made by customer in New York looks identical to a merchant as a Bitcoin payment made by a customer in London, Buenos Aires, or Tokyo. Moreover, there are no international currency conversion fees associated with Bitcoin payments so merchants can sell low margin items just as profitably abroad as they do domestically. The ability to easily begin accepting payments from customers around the world can open up whole new markets for merchants, and significantly improve top-line revenue.”

Mark T. Williams, Executive-in-Residence/Master Lecturer, Boston University School of Management, Boston, MA, said, “Businesses that are willing to adopt and utilize new technology, such as virtual currencies, may gain a distinct competitive advantage (e.g., cost savings, increased sales) over their competitors. However, blindly adopting technology without understanding the full risk implications can be hazardous to a company’s financial health. Bitcoin is an example of new technology that has clear promise, but also poses a multitude of risks for both businesses and consumers.”

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The Strengthening Education through Research Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am

THE PROBLEM:

Established by the Education Sciences Reform Act in 2002, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is responsible for gathering information on education progress, conducting research on educational practices in the nation’s schools, and evaluating the quality of federal education programs and initiatives. The information collected and disseminated by IES helps states and school districts identify and implement successful education practices. Additionally, the research allows taxpayers and congressional leaders to monitor the federal investment in education.

However, the Education Sciences Reform Act is overdue for reform, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found several weaknesses in the law that must be addressed. For example, although IES has significantly improved the quality of education research over the last decade, there is often a significant delay in disseminating key data and findings to education officials.  Additionally, IES does not always properly evaluate the efficacy of its programs and research arms, potentially leading to unnecessary costs and redundancies.

THE SOLUTION:

To enhance the quality of education research, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366). This legislation will reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act and improve the federal research structure.

THE STRENGTHENING EDUCATION THROUGH RESEARCH ACT:

         •  Enhances the relevancy of education research at the state and local levels, helping teachers, students, parents, and policymakers access more useful information about successful education practices.

         •  Streamlines the federal education research system, preventing overlap, redundancy, and duplication of research efforts.

         •  Improves accountability and protects the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs.

         •  Strengthens privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.

         •  Maintains the autonomy of IES, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation’s Report Card) to shield these entities from political influence and bias.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366) will make it easier for states and school districts to access useful data that can help raise student achievement levels in the classroom.

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Committee Leaders Introduce the Strengthening Education through Research Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Ranking Member Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) today introduced the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366), legislation that will reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act and make it easier for states and school districts to access timely information on successful education practices.

“Quality education research is critical to successful schools,” said Rep. Rokita. “To raise student achievement levels, teachers and school leaders need good data on what works – and what doesn’t – in the classroom. The legislation we are introducing today will improve education research, protect taxpayers by enhancing program accountability, and help ensure more schools and students can benefit from effective education practices.”

Rep. McCarthy said, “I firmly believe that in order to successfully prepare our students for the workforce, our nation’s educators must be able to identify and have access to successful and proven techniques. I am proud to note that this legislation reaffirms a federal commitment to states and localities to provide teachers, principals, and educational leaders with the latest research products that can improve educational equity and effectiveness for students without bias.”

In 2002 the Education Sciences Reform Act established the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The Institute is responsible for gathering information on education progress, conducting research on educational practices in the nation’s schools, and evaluating the quality of federal education programs and initiatives. However, the Education Sciences Reform Act is overdue for reform, and a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found several weaknesses in the law that must be addressed.

The Strengthening Education through Research Act:

  • Enhances the relevancy of education research at the state and local levels, helping teachers, students, parents, and policymakers access more useful information about successful education practices.
     
  • Streamlines the federal education research system, preventing overlap, redundancy, and duplication of research efforts.
     
  • Improves accountability and protects the taxpayers’ investment by requiring regular evaluations of research and education programs.
     
  • Preserves and enhances focus on research regarding educational equity and closing achievement gaps.
     
  • Strengthens privacy provisions to ensure personally identifiable information collected by IES is secure and protected.
     
  • Maintains the autonomy of IES, the National Assessment Governing Board, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (also known as the Nation’s Report Card) to shield these entities from political influence and bias.

To view a bill summary, click here.  To read a fact sheet, click here.

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Kline Statement: Hearing on "Keeping College Within Reach: Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:00am

Student demographics are changing rapidly and remarkably. The days when the majority of college students were between the ages of 18 and 22, attending college full-time right after graduating from high school, are over. Today more than half of postsecondary students are so-called “non-traditional” students.

These contemporary students often have families, work full- or part-time, and are financially independent. They return to school with one overarching goal: to quickly and affordably gain new skills that will help them compete for area jobs and new career opportunities. Recognizing this new demand, higher education institutions are exploring new modes of education delivery.

To help students earn a degree faster, a number of schools now offer prior learning assessments. Students are evaluated based on their existing knowledge in a particular subject, providing the opportunity to progress in a degree program without being forced to first complete redundant or unnecessary courses.

At a previous hearing, Council for Adult and Experimental Learning president and CEO Dr. Pamela Tate shared examples of students who have benefitted from prior learning assessments, such as the Navy veteran who was able to use his military and job training to gain credits toward his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Manufacturing Engineering.

Other institutions are embracing technology, providing new opportunities for students to complete online courses at their own pace. At Western Governor’s University, the largest online-only institution, a flexible competency-based education model makes it easier for students to earn a degree while balancing the demands of family and work.

Recognizing some contemporary students may have previously earned college credits, or would like to earn a degree at a lower cost by fulfilling some course requirements at local community colleges, states are collaborating with institutions to implement comprehensive articulation agreements. These agreements make it easier for students to transfer credits between institutions, reducing redundancy and helping raise degree completion rates.

In Louisiana, for example, associate’s degrees earned at two-year community colleges are guaranteed to transfer completely to four-year institutions. Additionally, some states are expanding their articulation agreements to include bordering states and private institutions, providing students more flexibility and options when earning a postsecondary degree. 

We are fortunate to have with us today an excellent panel of witnesses who can offer more examples of ways postsecondary institutions, private entities, and states are working to help contemporary students realize their education goals. We look forward to your testimony.

Supporting innovation in the nation’s colleges and universities remains a key priority for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. However, as we have seen in the K-12 education system, such innovation should be encouraged from the ground up, not mandated from Washington.

In recent years, the administration has tried repeatedly to impose new, burdensome regulations on the nation’s colleges and universities in the name of “program integrity.” The gainful employment, credit hour, and state authorization regulations have been widely rejected by education stakeholders, Congress, and the federal court system for the simple fact that these rules will hamper innovation, reduce academic freedom, and limit choice and opportunity in higher education.
 
The committee has advanced legislation to combat these controversial regulations, and will continue to explore additional opportunities to rein in the administration’s efforts to impose harmful mandates on students and schools. Additionally, as we begin drafting legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, we must include policies that promote – not dictate – continued innovation and flexibility in postsecondary institutions. We cannot allow federal barriers to stand in the way of the services and opportunities students deserve.

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