Update for COHEAO Members on the Federal Government Shutdown

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October 1, 2013 · by mlivolsi · Spark Notes

October 1, 2013

Prepared by: Harrison Wadsworth  (hwadsworth@wpllc.net)

As you have no doubt heard, the federal government has mostly shut down today due to an intractable dispute in Congress that has led to an expiration of appropriations legislation.  At this time, there is an impasse between the Republican controlled House and Democrat controlled Senate over the determination of the House majority to at least cut funding for administration of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as part of passing a resolution (a Continuing Resolution or CR) keeping the government funded for another six weeks.  The Senate majority is refusing to pass anything but a clean extension of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government, without extraneous amendments.  At this time, Democrats and Republicans are busy making speeches blaming the other party for the shutdown so it is not clear what will happen next.  COHEAO anticipates that the shutdown will last at least several days, but it’s impossible to predict since only the Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader of the Senate Harry Reid (D-NV) are in a position to move the process forward.

The Department of Education has furloughed most of its employees, “approximately 3,983.” (We are not sure who the “approximate” employees are.) Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation and some of their support staff are “excepted,” along with the minimum number of employees necessary to oversee student loans and Pell Grants, about 212 in all according to a chart released by the Department.

ED and the White House have put out documents describing what is happening with the programs the ED operates.  The Pell Grant Program, the Perkins Loan Program and the Direct Loan Program continue to operate.  About 138 employees designated as “excepted” from being furloughed will continue oversight of those programs.  However, the other campus based programs, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Work Study, will apparently not be distributing any funds while the shutdown continues.   Help desks and other services operated by contractors are continuing normally.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not affected since it is funded automatically by the Federal Reserve and thus does not depend on Congress to pass annual appropriations to fund its operations.

Guidance issued by the ED Office of Federal Student Aid yesterday, can be found here: http://ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/092713PotentialGovernmentShutdown.html and here: http://www2.ed.gov/about/furlough2013/index.html .

COHEAO’s offices remain open, of course, and are operating as usual.  If you have questions, please let us know by contacting Wes Huffman or Harrison Wadsworth, whuffman@wpllc.net or hwadsworth@wpllc.net.   We will provide updates from time to time.