DC Digest – March 1, 2017

 In Today’s Issue:

  • Trump Addresses Congress
  • HBCU Executive Order
  • Women in STEM
  • Skinny Budget
  • Student Loan Audit
  • Year-Round Pell?
  • DACA Buzz
  • EPA Regulations
  • March for Science 

THE WEST WING’S SPEECH

President Trump delivered his first address to Congress last night. Typically viewed as a new president’s “State of the Union” address, he touched on everything from the immigration ban to an infrastructure package.  In particular, he also called on Congress “to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth.”

Five Big Take-Aways

HBCU EXECUTIVE ORDER

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order late Tuesday aimed at signaling his commitment to historically black colleges and universities.

Trump’s order moves the Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities from the Department of Education into the executive office of the White House. It directs the initiative to work with the private sector to strengthen the fiscal stability of HBCUs, to make infrastructure improvements, provide job opportunities for students, and to work with secondary schools to create a college pipeline and increase access and opportunity to federal grants and contracts.

HBCU Order

TRUMP SIGNS WOMEN IN STEM BILLS

President Trump yesterday signed two bills focused on bolstering women in science, technology, engineering, and math. The measures call for gender diversity in these fields but provide no new funding for advancing that goal.

The INSPIRE Women Act (H.R. 321) directs NASA to provide a report to House and Senate committees about how current and former astronauts and other staff can promote STEM in schools.

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act (H.R. 255) authorizes the National Science Foundation to expand its educational and professional programs for women into the commercial sector.

SKINNY BUDGET, FAT DEFENSE

President Trump’s “skinny” budget proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, while cutting domestic programs by the same amount.

Defense Spared  

AUDITING STUDENT LOANS

Sen. Mike Enzi, the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget, says it’s time for a closer look at the nation’s student loan program. He’s requested that the Education Department do an audit of all the student loan-related data it maintains.

“If Congress is to continue to entrust the $100 billion annual federal student lending operation to the agency, it must show that it can maintain accurate records of loan transactions, costs and performance — as any financial institution must,” Enzi said.

Enzi Writes a Frenzy

PELL GRANTS GET A SWELL CHANCE

House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday that he supports expanding Pell Grant eligibility to low-income students attending classes all year.

“I like year-round Pell,” Ryan told a group of Historically Black Colleges and Universities leaders gathered at a summit on Capitol Hill. “I think that makes a lot of sense.”

DHS KELLY: DACA SAFE?

Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said yesterday that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told him the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is “safe” from repeal.

After meeting with Kelly, McAuliffe said Kelly “reiterated” the Trump administration’s “support for the DREAMers here in this country” and said it’s “a policy that will continue.”

EPA REGULATION REVIEW

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order calling for the EPA to overhaul one of the Obama administration’s regulations, a rule that defined rivers, streams and wetlands as domains protected under the Clean Water Act.

The new order would start a process for the EPA to either review or rescind the regulation.

THE MARCH FOR SCIENCE

Scientists and researchers in understanding with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) are organizing a march on Washington.

Beakers and Speakers