This week, Congress reconvened in Washington and passed a number of important bills to empower students, strengthen national security and keep our communities safe.
Supporting Student Financial Literacy
As Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I know it is imperative to address the $1.4 trillion of student debt in our country. It has never been more critical for individuals to make responsible choices in paying for postsecondary education. Currently, recipients of federal student aid do not receive critical information about loans and grants they need to make sound financial choices.
The House took a huge step toward empowering students on Wednesday with the passage of the bipartisan Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. This legislation improves financial aid counseling for students receiving a Pell Grant or a federal loan. It ensures both student and parent borrowers have the most up-to-date information by requiring financial counseling before an individual signs on the dotted line. It also requires annual counseling to include recommendations for students to exhaust available grant, work-study, and scholarship assistance before taking out loans.
Protecting Our Homeland
Tuesday, the House passed eleven bills to secure better our homeland by improving our nation’s defenses and staying ahead of ever-evolving threats. These bills bolster our border security efforts, strengthen TSA, and enhance our ability to identify cyber threats, among other things. Additional legislation includes H.R. 6439, the Biometric Identification Migration Alert Program (BITMAP) Authorization Act of 2018 by a bipartisan vote of 272-119. This bill fully authorizes BITMAP and helps prevent potential terrorists and dangerous criminals from entering our country.
BITMAP is a program led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations in which partner-country law enforcement officers collect and share biometric and biographic data on individuals posing a national security threat by using illicit pathways to enter the United States.
Earlier this year, in United States v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court ruled that a clause in the U.S. Code which defines “crime of violence” is unconstitutionally vague. This week, the House passed H.R. 6691, the Community Safety and Security Act, to specify circumstances when a criminal offense should be deemed a crime of violence. This includes crimes such as voluntary manslaughter, attempted kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts upon a child, sexual assault, burglary, and assault. Additionally, this bill reinstates the ability of law enforcement to protect American citizens by putting those who commit serious crimes behind bars. It also ensures our criminal laws clearly lay out what types of conduct are subject to higher penalties, which could result in additional time in prison.
North Carolinians in the Capitol
Every week I meet with many different constituents, industries and non-profits who bring their concerns to my Washington D.C. office. Here is a snapshot of recent meetings I’ve held.
Oncology Nursing Society
International Franchise Association
What’s Up Next?
Next week, the House will act to provide relief to middle class families by restoring the traditional 40-hour work week under the Affordable Care Act. The bipartisan Save American Workers Act will return flexibility and take-home-pay back to workers by reversing the Affordable Care Act’s redefinition of the American workweek.