Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

June 29, 2005

Budget

Highway bill

The House and Senate continue deliberations in conference to try to reach an agreement on HR 3, The Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or what is commonly referred to as the Highway Bill. According to Congress Daily: “The Senate conferees agreed June 20 to propose a $290 billion authorization of highway, transit and road safety programs through fiscal 2009, which would split the difference between the $284 billion in the House bill and the $295 billion in the Senate bill.” The previous Highway Bill was extended after it failed to pass Congress last year despite negotiations by Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. Congress anticipates another short term extension if an agreement can’t be reached in conference this week.

Higher education

The Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization is moving forward on Capitol Hill as both the House and Senate introduced bills this month. On June 16, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Higher Education Simplification and Deregulations Act of 2005, S. 1261. Among other items this bill would simplify the financial aid process, eliminate the federal need analysis requirements for Javits and GAANN programs, and call for year round federal Pell grants and flexible loan limits for year round study. The legislation also calls for the Secretary of Education to publish in the Federal Register a list of the “top” 200 institutions of higher education in various categories, including the lowest tuition and required fees. The House Democrats also introduced a bill aimed at making college tuition and loans more affordable. In addition, House Democrats launched an e-hearing on college affordability so that students and families can tell members of Congress their personal experiences about trying to pay for a higher education. The House Republicans introduced their version of the reauthorization bill earlier this year.

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