DC Digest – June 16, 2017
OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
- Appropriations Move Forward
- Trump Budget Push-Back
- DACA Protections Remain
- Revisions to Cuba Travel Policy
- DeVos on Higher Ed Regulations
FY18 APPROPRIATIONS MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT BUDGET AGREEMENT
The House and Senate plan to advance spending bills without a budget agreement or a bipartisan deal on a top-line spending level.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Bloomberg the Senate will “move forward with some of the appropriations bills at last year’s levels, and then adjust them once we can reach a bipartisan agreement on how much we’re going to spend.”
TRUMP BUDGET CUTS GAIN OPPOSITION
On June 15, senior Senate appropriator Roy Blunt (R-MO) panned the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal, vowing not to sign off on any spending bill that would slash funding to key public health programs. Senator Blunt, chairman of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittee, singled out proposed funding cuts to the NIH and CDC as particularly unacceptable.
“It’s hard to imagine that we would do that,” he told HHS Secretary Tom Price during a budget hearing. “I wouldn’t intend to be part of writing a bill this year that reduces funding for the National Institutes of Health.”
In a seperate hearing, also on June 15, DoD Secretary James Mattis testified before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA), a senior Republican on the committee told Secretary Mattis that funding the military “cannot be obtained on the back of non-defense discretionary spending. I think all of us here in this room understand that. It’s not going to work.”
DACA PROTECTIONS KEPT IN PLACE
On Thursday night, the 5th anniversay of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, President Trump’s Administration reversed a campaign pledge and announced they will not immediately eliminate protections for so-called Dreamers. The order came in the form of a Department of Homeland Security fact sheet posted on the department’s website. The fact sheet states that immigrants enrolled in DACA, “will continue to be eligible” to renew every two years and goes on to note that “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates.”
CUBAN TRAVEL PLANS
This afternoon President Trump is issuing a presidential directive aimed at rolling back some of President Obama’s work to open up relations and travel between the Univer States and Cuba. For more detail on what exactly the directive will and will not allow we recomend this summary from Reuters.
At the same time, NBC News had an interview with Senator Jeff FLake (R-AZ) discussing overwhelming support in the Senate to lift any remianing restrictions on travel to Cuba, setting up a potenital showdown between the branches if Congress decides to move forward with legislation.
DEVOS ANNOUNCES RULEMAKING COMMITTEES
On June 14, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the Department will establish rulemaking committees on Borrow Defense to Repayment (BDR) and Gainful Employment (GE) regulations. The two regulations, borrower’s defense to repayment and gainful employment, are meant to make it easier for defrauded student borrowers to have their loans canceled and cutting off federal aid to low-performing career college programs, respectively. They reflect the Obama administration’s approach to accountability, which featured a heavy focus on cracking down on for-profit colleges, and how the Trump administration reworks the rules will be telling.