NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara Mistick

November 05, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

This week, as the pressure increased on the Democratic leadership to deliver on President Biden’s signature climate, social and infrastructure packages before Thanksgiving, Congress continued to wrestle with what to include in the Build Back Better reconciliation legislation.

In the House, a new version of the reconciliation bill was released, with the hopes of securing a vote by week’s end. The new version maintains all the higher education investments I detailed for you last week, and adds a $4.9 billion program for community college workforce development grants that had not been in the original legislation. However, the new bill removes the endowment tax fix that would have allowed institutions providing a certain amount of financial aid to students to avoid the tax. The loss of that provision means our sector has also lost an inflation provision to prevent even more private colleges from being caught up in the tax as the years go on.

While the new community college program and endowment provisions are not related, the changes prove that negotiations are ongoing regarding what provisions are in or out, and that everything is vulnerable until a final vote. Added pressure on Democrats is coming from the results of the off-year elections on Tuesday, cost estimates for the bill released this week, and the continued influence of moderates on the overall bill. 

The constantly changing provisions mean that we cannot relent in our ongoing advocacy in support of the Pell Grant increase, the HBCU, TCU and MSI funding, and repealing/fixing the endowment tax until Congress finalizes this bill.


  • Yesterday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its rule on vaccines for employers with 100 or more employees. Our lead story below provides details on the rule, as well as updated vaccine guidance for federal contractors that was also released this week. OSHA will be hosting a webinar for higher education stakeholders on November 12 from 2:00-2:45 p.m. ET. Registration details have not yet been released by OSHA. 
  • The Affordability and Student Loan Committee on negotiated rulemaking has been meeting for its second session, however, as is typical at this stage of the process, there was lots of dialogue but no official consensus votes were taken on the topics

The last session of meetings will be held from December 6–10. At that time, the committee will be required to take a final consensus vote on the issues. If the committee does not reach consensus, the Department will have the ability to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking according to their discretion. If the final rule is issued by November 1, 2022, it would go into effect on July 1, 2023.

This week’s Washington Update also includes a story on a Department of Education a $2 million grant opportunity to support teacher preparation programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Double Pell

“Pell Grants are the major federal program to award direct financial aid to lower-income students. They are intended to ensure that every student, regardless of financial circumstances, can afford a college education. Currently, Congress is considering critical legislation to double the Pell Grant. Unlike one-size fits all proposals, Double Pell Grants create the greatest opportunity for those who have the greatest need. And we cannot wait.”

Elizabeth Stroble, chancellor, Webster University (MO)

Chancellor Stroble’s quote above is excerpted from an op-ed supporting doubling the Pell Grant maximum she wrote and got placed in the St. Louis Business Journal last week. These local opinion pieces are so important to our national campaign. We have heard from Members of Congress and staff that the Double Pell campaign has been one of the most visible and effective campaigns they’ve seen. 

As I noted above, we must continue our efforts as Congress works on finalizing the legislation.

A good example of sustaining momentum on doubling Pell is the upcoming initiative from the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), which is a partner in the Double Pell Alliance. During the week of November 15, NCAN will be hosting its 7th annual #Thankful4Pell #DoublePell Advocacy Week. NCAN is creating tools, resources, social media content, and collecting student stories to help their members engage with their elected officials in support of doubling the Pell Grant throughout that week. 

A reminder that the Double Pell Alliance is hosting a webinar on November 12 that will highlight strategic communications practices and tactics that will help your institution get involved with the national #DoublePell campaign. I hope you and/or your communications team will be able to join and participate. 

I know you have a tremendous amount of activity happening on your campuses right now so I am thankful for the time and effort you continue to give to this campaign that will help so many students and families. I know that our work will continue to have an impact. 

Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
President, NAICU

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