NAICU Washington Update

Congress Back in Town; HEA Waiting in the Wings

Congress has begun the second session of the 110th Congress, and the House has announced that it will take up the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill on Thursday, February 7 (immediately following the NAICU Annual Meeting).

Passage of a bipartisan economic stimulus package has taken center stage in the early days of the session, but the reauthorization is next in line. The House Education and Labor Committee filed a report (House Report 110-500) on its HEA bill (H.R. 4137) on December 19. The Rules Committee has announced it will consider the bill on February 5 – a step that typically immediately precedes floor consideration.

Conference activity is expected soon thereafter, given that the Senate has already approved its version of the bill (S. 1642) (see WIR, 7/25/07). Education leaders in the House and Senate intend to complete all work on the reauthorization bill and send it to the president before March 31, when the current extension of the act expires.

NAICU members and staff have continued to work the short list of key concerns distributed to the full membership in November. Specific revisions to the bill have not yet been released; however, it appears we have made major inroads on the issues of accreditation (see related article, below), articulation agreements, and institutional aid packaging – or "last dollar." Unfortunately, there are few signs of movement on college costs, teacher education, or new reporting requirements.

The involvement of NAICU presidents has been a key factor in the progress we have made, and we continue to count on your support. We anticipate that — much like the November 9 introduction and November 15 committee action — things will happen very quickly.

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