USDE Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Meets, Reaches Consensus
In This Issue:
- U.S. Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Meets, Reaches Consensus
- Senate HELP Committee and House Education and Labor Committee Hold Higher Education Act Reauthorization Hearings Focusing on Accountability
- House Education Committee Questions Secretary of Education on USDE Policies and Priorities Reintroduced in Senate
The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) held the third and fourth sessions of its negotiated rulemaking on accreditation, innovation and other topics on March 25-28 and on April 1-3, 2019 in Washington, DC. Negotiated rulemaking is the process used by USDE for stakeholder representatives to meet with USDE to negotiate the terms of a proposed administrative rule or regulatory change.
The negotiated rulemaking consisted of a main committee and three subcommittees (which addressed distance education, faith-based institutions and TEACH Grants). The subcommittees made recommendations to the full committee. Following reports from the three subcommittees, its own consideration and discussion, the full committee voted on three sets of changes to the rules:
- The first set of changes addressed accreditation, definition of a credit hour and Byrd Scholarships.
- The second set of changes addressed TEACH Grants and religious freedom (in the context of faith-based institutions).
- The third set of changes addressed distance education, state authorization for distance education and competency-based education.
Consensus was reached on all three sets of changes. The final language approved by the committee will be available on the negotiated rulemaking Website page, although how soon the text will be available is uncertain. (For news coverage of the negotiated rulemaking, see the April 4, 2019 issue of Accreditation in the News.)
USDE will now review the proposed changes in the rules for technical issues and will then publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register and provide for a public comment period. USDE will review all comments and changes may be made to the proposed rule based on those comments. For the rule to take effect on July 1, 2020, the final rule must be published in the Federal Register by November 1, 2019.
On April 10, 2019, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing titled “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Strengthening Accountability to Protect Students and Taxpayers.” Copies of witnesses’ prepared remarks and an archived Webcast of the hearing are available on the HELP Committee Website.
The House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment also held a hearing on “Strengthening Accountability to Better Serve Students and Taxpayers” on April 3, 2019. Witness testimony and an opening statement by Subcommittee Chair Susan Davis (D-California) can be found on the Committee Website.
The hearings are part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization process; both HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) have said they hope to pass reauthorization legislation by the end of 2019
The House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on April 10, 2019 to question Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on USDE’s policies and priorities. DeVos fielded inquiries touching on a number of topics including accreditation and USDE’s recently concluded negotiated rulemaking (see item above). The Committee’s Website includes a Webcast of the hearing, DeVos’s prepared remarks and copies of opening statements by Committee Chair Bobby Scott and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx, (R-North Carolina).