In this issue:
As they attempt to recess for Memorial Day at the end of the week, both the House and the Senate are preoccupied with wrapping up the Iraq war supplemental conference report and begin debate on the contentious immigration compromise proposed by Democratic leaders and the White House. A rare "vote of no-confidence" on AG Gonzalez may also surface.
Before returning from the Memorial Day (week) recess, the Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness Subcommittee has scheduled a field hearing on "Higher Education Act: Institutional Support for Colleges and Universities Under Title III and Title V," scheduled at 10:00 a.m. at the Austin Community College Eastview Campus, in Austin. Witnesses are to be announced.
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In the Budget Resolution adopted last week, conferees included instructions to the education committees to provide $750 million in net deficit reduction over six years. Both Chairman Kennedy and Chairman Miller have independently stated that they will make the cuts by reducing federal subsidies to private student loan companies and use potential surplus savings to enhance benefits for students, including reductions in loan interest rates and an increase in Pell Grant funding. The agreement also allows the Senate to include reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in filibuster-proof reconciliation legislation.
Also included in the budget deal is $50 billion to provide SCHIP health insurance for more eligible low-income children without specifying where the money will come from. While using funds from a tobacco tax is one proposal on the table, Members are also weighing cuts in Medicare payments to some traditional fee-for-service providers, including hospitals, home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities, as well as overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans.
The House Agriculture Committee has approved legislation that would cut off federal aid to any state or locality that takes private property by eminent domain for private development purposes. The bill is an attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2005 Kelo v. City of New London, Conn. case, in which the Court ruled that the city of New London, could condemn land and transfer it from one private owner to another for economic development purposes.
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