NAICU Washington Update

Negotiations Begin on Ambitious Regulatory Agenda

January 30, 2019

The Department of Education has once again commenced negotiated rulemaking, seeking to implement an ambitious regulatory agenda that touches many elements of federal higher education policy.
While the initial days of negotiations focused primarily on procedural protocols and laying the groundwork for future negotiations, some common policy themes emerged. Negotiators frequently questioned the Department’s rationale for certain policy changes, particularly related to accreditation and distance education, as well as the statutory authority to make such changes. Negotiators also balked at many proposals aimed at promoting innovation at the expense of student and borrower protections. 
The structure of the panels consists of a single official decision-making body, coupled with three subcommittees charged with tackling a smaller subset of issues. The subcommittees will discuss their topics and report recommendations back to the decision-making body, which will then debate those recommendations with the goal of reaching consensus. Should consensus fail to be reached the Department of Education will have the right to publish regulations in line with its own vision, irrespective of the views of the negotiators. 
The negotiations will continue in February, starting with the subcommittees on February 12-13. Following the subcommittee discussions, the full committee will reconvene from February 19-22.  The final negotiations will happen in March 2019.

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