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ACRL Legislative Agenda 2017 draft (updated March 28, 2017)

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Activities of the Congressional House Education and the Workforce Committee

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired byCongresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), works on issues relating to the U.S. Education system and Workforce and provides oversight of policies administered by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, chaired byRepresentative Brett Guthrie (R-KY), covers issues on post-secondary education. Some of the issues for which they have jurisdiction are: the Higher Education Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, all programs relating to museums and library services, and postsecondary career and technical education. This subcommittee’s Issues on Higher Education page covers their most recent activities, opinions, and press releases. On February 7th, they issued a fact sheet titled “Protecting a Limited Federal Role in Education” which may reflect policies and decisions made in the coming year.


In the incoming 115th Congress, dozens of bills have been introduced and have been referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The following are just a few of those introduced this year. H.R. 483-No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act was introduced January 12, 2017 and referred to this committee. This bill would amend title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to prohibit the provision of funds under such title to institutions of higher education that violate the immigration laws, and for other purposes. H.R. 899-to terminate the Department of Education was introduced and referred to this committee on February 7th, 2017. H.R. 1123- HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act was introduced February 16, 2017 and was referred to this committee. It aims to amend title III (Institutional Aid) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modify the HBCU Capital Financing Program. (The program guarantees low-cost private loans to historically black colleges and universities [HBCUs] to finance infrastructure repairs, maintenance, and construction.) These and any new bills or regulations will continue to be monitored.



On a related note on Higher Education…In February 2017, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. It appears that DeVos’ main focus will be a diminished role of the federal government in education policies and regulations. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx has shown strong support for DeVos. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education on March 16, 2017 titled “What Trump’s Budget Outline Would Mean for Higher Ed” indicates areas of the executive branch’s budget blueprint that might affect higher education and by extension academic libraries. Some areas to watch are funding cuts to the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities federal agencies which provide funding for academic research and sometimes provide funding for large scale academic library grant projects. Also, the proposed budget includes a $9 billion cut to U.S. Department of Education programs. Some carry over funds for Pell Grants would be taken from that program for other purposes but the Pell Grant Program would remain protected. $200 million cuts in federal programs that assist disadvantaged students in their higher education pursuits. Also Federal Work-Study and the Supplemental Opportunity Grants would face “significant” cuts. Also, The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that President Trump recently appointed Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. to a new federal task force on Higher Education to “identify changes that should be made to the U.S. Department of Education’s policies and procedures.” No activities have been observed and no website was found for this new taskforce.