25 U.S. Representatives & 3 U.S. Senators Attend Biannual AJCU Congressional Breakfast

Contact: Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications for AJCU
(202) 862-9893, dhowes@ajcunet.edu

Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)

Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Thursday, October 5th, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) hosted the biannual AJCU Congressional Breakfast at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. Twenty-eight members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives attended the breakfast, as well as the presidents and government relations officers of twenty-three Jesuit colleges and universities (including AJCU associate member, St. John's College in Belize).

The breakfast began with opening remarks by AJCU president, Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J. and AJCU Board Chair, Rev. Michael J. Graham, S.J., president of Xavier University. Attendees then heard from two Georgetown University students, Luiz Gonzalez and Emilio R. Joubert, who spoke about the impact of Federal financial aid and the DACA program. Both students would not be able to obtain a Jesuit education at Georgetown without significant financial and social support provided by both the University and the U.S. government.

After hearing from the students, attendees heard from several members of Congress: Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Representative Robert C. (Bobby) Scott (D-VA), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Representatives DeSaulnier and Vargas invited attendees to join the Congressional Friends of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Caucus; Rep. DeSaulnier is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and Rep. Vargas is a former Jesuit novice and graduate of Fordham University. Leader Pelosi is the parent of Georgetown University alumni and Ranking Member Scott is a graduate of Boston College. Both members updated the attendees about the status of the DACA bill pending in Congress, the status of the expired Perkins Loan program, and proposed cuts to campus-based aid programs in the FY18 budget.

The breakfast provided a unique opportunity for AJCU presidents to interact with Jesuit alumni in Congress as well as the members who represent their districts and states. AJCU's Vice President for Federal Relations, Cyndy Littlefield, said, “AJCU's bipartisan relationships with members of Congress are critical for working together to preserve Federal student aid programs and to help our undocumented students affected by the recent announcement of the DACA rescission. We greatly appreciate the Members’ continued support for the unique mission of our Jesuit institutions, and for students who need our help the most."  

Prior to the breakfast, members of the AJCU Federal Relations Network attended the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) Legislative Conference and Gala on Capitol Hill, and the annual AJCU Federal Relations Conference at the Capitol Visitor Center. Highlights of the AJCU Conference (organized by Littlefield) included a conversation with Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) about the future of the Perkins loan program; a panel on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) with members of the House and Senate education committees; a conversation on DACA with Joe Zogby, Chief Counsel to Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL); and an update on Title IX regulations with Stephanie Gold, partner at Hogan Lovells, LLP. Following the breakfast on the 5th, the AJCU presidents remained in Washington for their annual board meeting.

All photos by Rafael Suanes.