Overnight Regulation: Dems press DeVos over rule targeting for-profit colleges

Overnight Regulation: Dems press DeVos over rule targeting for-profit colleges
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Overnight Regulation, your daily rundown of news from the federal agencies, Capitol Hill, the courts and beyond. It's Tuesday evening here in Washington and we can't get over that a lawmaker telling one of his constituents at a town hall to "shut up." Here's how that went down



Senate Democrats want Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to explain why she's delaying the implementation of an Obama-era rule aimed at ensuring career-training programs, specifically those at for-profit colleges, actually prepare students for good-paying jobs.

In a letter to DeVos this week, Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinNegotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions Schumer calls for delay on passage of defense bill amid Iran tensions MORE (Ill.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Chris Murphy may oppose bipartisan health bill unless it addresses ObamaCare 'sabotage' Key senators release bipartisan package to lower health care costs MORE (Wash.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAbigail Disney: 'We're creating a super-class' of rich people Is Big Tech biased? The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations MORE (Mass.) called the department's gainful employment rule a critical protection for both students and taxpayers.

On Jan. 9, the department released final debt-to-earning rates for career training programs required by the rule finalized under Obama in October 2014.  

Under the rule, the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate would have to be at or below 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of his or her total earnings to be considered a program that leads to gainful employment.


Programs that exceed these levels would be at risk of losing their ability to participate in taxpayer-funded federal student aid programs.

Late last week, the department gave schools more time to appeal their ratings, which are generated using earnings data from the Social Security Administration and debt information from the department's records and the school.

Final appeals, originally due March 10, are now due July 1.

But Democrats argue the rule was generous to begin with, giving schools three opportunities to appeal their rates.

"According to a Department spokesperson, the delay was also due to 'a question about whether schools can provide data to a third party,'" the senators wrote. "It is unclear how this question could not have been solved through follow-up guidance rather than a delay."

DeVos is also giving Gainful Employment Programs until July 1 to switch to a new format in meeting the requirement to disclose information about their programs, including graduation rates, tuition and fee amounts, typical student debt upon graduation and what a graduate is likely to earn.

The senators asked DeVos how long it would take for the department to resolve the appeals it receives.

They also asked if she will enforce the requirement that took effect Feb. 8, which forces programs to notify students of their failing rates, and if she'll promise not to delay the rule any further. 

Read the full story here.



The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing to look at innovative solutions to control invasive species and promote wildlife conservation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on visas that focuses on investigating K-1 fiancé fraud. 

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies will hold a hearing to look at STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] education and how to prepare students for the careers of today and the future.




Keep an eye on these rules in Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register:

--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will delay new rules for prepaid cards.

The prepaid regulations issued last fall were scheduled to go into effect in October 2017, but the CFPB will propose to delay the effective date until April 2018.

The public has 21 days to comment on the potential delay.

--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will issue new ground water guidelines at nuclear power plants. 

The NRC's new guidelines will measure "abnormal discharges of radionuclides in ground water" at commercial nuclear power plant sites.

The guidelines go into effect immediately.

--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will draft new rules for nuclear power reactors that are being decommissioned.

The rules will "provide for an efficient decommissioning process" and "reduce the need for exemptions from existing regulations."

The public has 90 days to comment.



Dems launch attacks ahead of Supreme Court showdown

NRA makes $1M ad buy to tout Gorsuch

Dems call on DeVos to explain delay in gainful employment rule

Trump dropping climate change impact from government reviews

Power plants' methane emissions much higher than thought, study finds

EPA to reconsider chemical plant safety rule

White House eyeing even deeper EPA cuts

Dem senator: Justice Department should investigate RT America

Germany proposes hefty hate speech fines for social media companies

New York City sues Verizon over internet rollout

Trump touts increased optimism among CEOs

Tech workers set to protest Trump on Pi Day



4: Proposed rules

12: Final rules

(Source: Wednesday's Federal Register)



"Great optimism in America -- and the results will be even better!" Trump tweeted Tuesday, touting a survey which showed increasing optimism among business leaders.

We'll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill's Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and @wheelerlydia.

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