Federal Relations

By Cynthia Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU

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New Tactics on Immigration
Long-simmering frustration over a lack of focus on immigration legislation and resolving DACA has compelled three members of the United States House of Representatives, Jeff Denham (R-CA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and Will Hurd (R-TX), to start a discharge petition on immigration. During a recent meeting of the Republican caucus, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) asked his members to refrain from signing the discharge petition. Hours later, two members signed: Representatives John Katko (R-NY) and Dave Trott (R-MI). As of this writing, there are 213 signatures; 218 are needed to discharge the petition.

After reaching the required number of signatures on the discharge petition, a special procedure known as the "Queen of the Hill" rule would allow the House to vote on four separate DACA proposals; the bill with the most votes in the House would pass. The four votes would occur on the bill proposed by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) (who chairs the House Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over immigration policy); the DREAM Act; the USA Act; and a fourth bill to be announced (for details on all of these bills, please click here).

As a discharge petition would bypass House committees and leadership, the only way it could be stopped would be through a call for recess by the Speaker of the House when Congress is in session on the first or third Monday of the month.

House Majority Whip, Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), announced that there would be a second vote on the Farm bill on June 22, and a vote on the Goodlatte bill at some point during the third week of June. This particular bill would provide a three-year extension for DACA recipients but, unlike the Dream Act, it would not provide a path toward citizenship.

AJCU will keep Jesuit institutions up to date on the the discharge petition and any potential opportunities to resolve DACA.

Updates on the Prosper Act
It is our understanding that congressional leadership have asked Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee, to secure votes for the “Prosper Act,” which would reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The chair subsequently called a meeting of Republican members on the committee for Wednesday, May 23, to discuss ways to secure enough votes for passage on the House floor within one month.

AJCU remains concerned by Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill would cut funding to student aid programs by $15 billion. Specifically, the bill would eliminate SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant), and cut subsidized and public service loan forgiveness, Graduate and Parent Plus loans, all of which would restrict students' access to obtaining a higher education. In response, AJCU will continue advocating for preservation of these programs that are vital to Jesuit institutions.

Appropriations Process Begins for FY19
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health & Human Services and Education will mark up the FY19 appropriations bill during the week of June 25. House Subcommittee markup dates have not yet been announced. At stake is preserving campus-based aid funding and Pell grants. AJCU continues to work on these issues with members of the Appropriations committees and their staff.

Save the Date: The AJCU Federal Relations Conference will be held from September 26-27, 2018 in Washington, D.C.