Monthly Archives: August 2015

National Council for Impacted Schools (NCIS) ESEA Reauthorization Update August 10, 2015

Now that the House and Senate have passed their respective reauthorization bills, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), staff has begun informal discussions to negotiate the final bill.  We have provided all four key professional staffers on the House and Education Workforce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee National Council for Impacted Schools (NCIS’) positions on their respective bills as they begin to hammer our differences in the Impact Aid title.  I have attached those position papers for your convenience.

NCIS likes the House bill more that the Senate, due to a number of B (2) heavily impacted provisions which provide eligibility to districts that no longer qualify, taking scarce resources from ALL eligible districts in an already underfunded program.  We are also concerned about any hold harmless provisions which “fences” funding for those districts that will soon fall out of B (2) eligibility.

Both bills provide for equal distribution above 100% LOT, which is a major victory.  We now are in discussions to ensure our reproduction of records provision is included in the final bill, and seek to include yearly open competition in the Sec. 8007 construction program, and eliminating the mandate of a student count of a district that receives 100 additional students, which will slow payments for all eligible districts.  We also question several other provisions, which are noted in the attachment.

The question then arises, can the final bill be considered, passed, and signed by the President?  The fall legislative schedule is crowded, due to the inaction to pass any of the annual appropriations bill before the start of the fiscal year on October 1st.  We anticipate the passage of a continuing resolution, which will fund the government through the end of the year.  This, coupled with trying to obtain a budget agreement which delays or eliminates the sequestration trigger, identifying full highway bill funding by October 1, the need to raise the debt limit once again by the end of the calendar year, could indeed “crowd” out this bill from being considered.  The final ESEA bill could also be attached to an omnibus appropriations measure that will be a must pass bill.

The Administration likes the Senate bill more than the House version, which the Administration has threatened to veto.  They have not taken an official stance on the Senate bill.

It will be a whirlwind legislative congressional session this fall.  The ESEA reauthorization process is close to finally being enacted after many years, unless the political environment necessitates a stalemate.  We look forward to working to ensure the final agreed upon Impact Aid title is consistent with NCIS principles.

Respectfully Submitted,
J.R. Reskovac
Principal
Capital Decisions

 

 

Weekly Legislative Report Aug 7, 2015

J.R. Reskovac
Sarah Strup

Defense

The Senate voted to fill the remaining slots on the Joint Chiefs of Staff Wednesday, confirming new top officers for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Those confirmed included three nominees set to become the top officers in their respective services: Gen. Mark A. Milley to be Army chief of staff, Adm. John M. Richardson to be chief of naval operations, and Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller to be the next Marine Corps commandant.

The Senate Armed Services Committee waived a requirement that nominations spend at least seven days in committee before heading to the full Senate, which would have forced the panel to hold off on nearly 300 of those nominations until September.  The Committee approved the Joint Chiefs of Staff nominations, along with 1,473 other military promotions.

Energy/Environment

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Administration’s Clean Power Plan this week.  The plan sets individual state reduction targets measured in pounds of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, and requires the U.S. power plant fleet to cut its carbon pollution 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  To view the final rule, see here.

48 states are regulated under the EPA plan (Alaska and Hawaii are not included) and several states will have to make little, if any, change to their electric generation mix to meet the agency’s established emission targets due to existing state policies cutting down carbon emissions.

The most stringent cuts fall on states dependent on fossil fuel-based electricity: Montana with a 42 percent reduction; Wyoming at 42 percent; North Dakota at 40 percent; Indiana at 33 percent; Missouri at 34 percent; Nebraska at 32 percent; Ohio at 33 percent; Texas at 32 percent; West Virginia at 34 percent; and Wisconsin at 38 percent.

Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, West Virginia and Wyoming have signaled that they will fight the plan in court once the final rule is published in the Federal Register.

Transportation

The Senate last Thursday passed the DRIVE Act, a proposal that would authorize highway programs for six-years, with three years of guaranteed funding.  The Senate bill would not increase the deficit or raise taxes and is fully offset.  The DRIVE Act would also increase transportation funding by $2 billion over MAP-21 levels.

However, Senators recognized that the House has already recessed, and with the expiration of the current highway bill on July 31, the Senate voted later that afternoon to pass the House’s short term measure (H.R. 3326) to extend transportation funding until October 29.

The House had passed H.R. 3326, the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 the previous week.  The bill provides $8 billion coupled with a three month extension of authorized surface transportation programs.

House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) indicated that his committee has been working for the past six months on developing a long term transportation proposal.  The three month extension will allow the House time to finish their bill, possibly paid for through international and corporate tax reform (known as repatriation) and conference with the Senate DRIVE Act prior to the October 29 expiration.  House and Senate Leadership seem to be on different wavelengths as to what they believe should make up a long-term highway bill.

Speaker Boehner has reportedly not been kind to the Senate’s proposal, voicing his concerns before the entire House GOP conference.

Washington Outlook

On Wednesday, July 29, the House adjourned until after Labor Day and the Senate recessed one week later on Wednesday, August 5.  When Congress returns on September 8, they will have to deal with a flurry of significant issues in a short period of time.

Some key dates ahead of note are:

Mid-September – Vote on Iran Nuclear Agreement

September 30 – End of Fiscal Year 2015

September 30 – FAA Authorization Set to Expire

October 28 – Temporary Highway Reauthorization/Funding Set to Expire

Late October – Debt Ceiling Reached

December 31 – Expiration of Several Tax Extender Provisions

Also on Congress’ “to-do” list for the fall are dealing with the expired authorization of the Export-Import Bank, a likely vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and cyber-security legislation.

In dealing with the end of the fiscal year, the most likely scenario continues to be that Congress will pass a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) before September 30, avoiding a government shutdown and allowing more time to negotiate some relief from the spending caps set in place by sequestration.  That will create another key date, likely in December, by which Congress will need to finalize FY16 spending.

The next Weekly Legislative Update will cover the week of September 8-11 when lawmakers return to Washington.