H.R. 2117: Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act

H.R. 2117

Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act

Date
February 28, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, under a rule.  The rule would provide one hour of general debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The rule would also provide ten minutes of debate for each of the five amendments made in order and would provide one motion to recommitted with or without instructions. 

H.R. 2117 was introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) on June 3, 2011, and was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which reported the bill, as amended, on July 22, 2011.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2117 would repeal certain Department of Education regulations that would do the following:

(1) require institutions of higher education and postsecondary vocational institutions (except religious schools) to be legally authorized by the state in which they are situated;

(2) delineate what such legal authorization requires of states and schools; and

(3) define "credit hour."

The bill would prohibit the Secretary of Education from promulgating or enforcing any regulation or rule that defines "credit hour" for any purpose under the HEA.

Background

In October 2010, the U.S. Department of Education released a package of regulations to purportedly improve the integrity of federal student financial assistance programs.  Two of these so-called “program integrity regulations” –the state authorization and credit hour regulations—inject the federal government into traditionally academic and state affairs.  The burdens of these two regulations, as well as other statutory and regulatory requirements, tax the resources of colleges and universities, making it more difficult for these entities to focus on their true mission of educating students.

Cost

No CBO score is available for H.R. 2117 at press time. 

Amendments

Amendment No. 1—Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY):  The amendment would strike the prohibition on the Secretary of Education from ever promulgating or enforcing any regulation or rule defining the term "credit hour."

Amendment No. 2—Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC):  The amendment would repeal a section of the credit hour regulation impacting clock hour programs.

Amendment No. 3—Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ):  The amendment would retain the requirement that states have to have a process to hear and take appropriate action on student complaints regarding institutions as part of the state authorization.

Amendment No. 4—Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO):  The amendment would link state authorization regulations to student outcomes.

Amendment No. 5—Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO):  The amendment would require the Secretary to present a plan to prevent waste, fraud and abuse to ensure effective use of taxpayer dollars.