The Impact of the 2020 Elections on the Administration and Congress

Publication Number 93 November 11, 2020

The Impact of 2020 Election Results on the Administration and Congress

USDEWith the election of Joseph Biden as President, there will be significant change at the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). There will be an appointment of a new Secretary of Education, which will bring a change in priorities and the likely restoration of some regulations revised by the current administration. Also changing will be a number of political appointees, including Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries, with a resultant impact on USDE policy areas including higher education and accreditation.

A week after the 2020 U.S. general elections, the following is known about the impact of the elections on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

With the Democrats maintaining the majority in the House of Representatives, though a smaller majority than in the current Congress, it appears that Bobby Scott (D-VA) will continue as Chair of the Committee on Education and Labor. In addition, the ratio of members from each party (currently, 27 Democrats and 20 Republicans) may change, due to the changing size of the Democratic majority. The election of committee and subcommittee Chairs will take place when the 117th Congress begins in January 2021.

We currently know that there are three retirements of education committee members (one Democrat and two Republicans), as well as election losses (one Democrat, with two current members of the Committee in races that are too close to call). If history is any indication, it is likely that about one-third of the House education committee members will be new to the committee due to election wins, losses, retirements and new committee assignments. It is a significant challenge to educate the new members of the committee and their staff on higher education issues, including accreditation.

If the Republicans retain their majority in the Senate, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will likely be chaired by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). Due to the retirement of committee chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) as well as Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the Republicans will have to replace at least three members of the committee. In addition, Kelley Loeffler (R-GA) is one of two candidates in a January runoff election in Georgia (which could result in a Democratic Senate majority). One Democratic Senator, Doug Jones (D-AL), lost his reelection, meaning Democrats will have to replace at least one member of the committee.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity to Meet in February 2021

USDEThe next meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) is scheduled as a virtual meeting on February 24 & 25, 2021. The meeting will be open to the public. NACIQI is the advisory body that provides recommendations to the Secretary of Education on recognition.

Accrediting organizations to be reviewed for recognition at the NACIQI meeting include 1) Association of Institutions of Jewish Study, 2) American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology, 3) American Board of Funeral Service Education, Committee on Accreditation, 4) Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, 5) Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, 6) Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education, 7) Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, 8) National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences, Inc. and 9) Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

U.S. House of Representatives Appointments for Terms on NACIQI

Under the Higher Education Act, NACIQI is made up of 18 members, six appointed by the U.S. Department of Education, six appointed by the Senate and six appointed by the House of Representatives. The Senate and House appointments are evenly divided between the majority and the minority. The terms of these appointment expire on a rotating basis. The House has forwarded the following nominations for a 6-year term.

Upon the recommendation of the minority leader:

  • Arthur E. Keiser, Chancellor, Keiser University
  • Jennifer Blum, Principal, Blum Higher Education Advising
  • Robert G. Mayes, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Columbia Southern Education Group

Upon the recommendation of the majority leader:

  • Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, President, KSA Strategic Consulting
  • Robert Shireman, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Roslyn Clark Artis, President, Benedict College

These individuals will undergo the standard USDE background check before they will be seated.