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College Admissions Still Making Waves.

ADMISSIONS SCANDAL FALLOUT CONTINUES: The college admissions cheating and bribery scandal is unfolding just as Congress is working to overhaul the Higher Education Act and as a host of Democrats work to curry favor with 2020 voters. House Democrats, meanwhile, are already vowing it's time for the education committee to scrutinize admissions. We have the full story.


"The stars are starting to align for a genuine legislative effort to both rein in unfair practices in admissions that undermine diversity and don't reward merit and to hold institutions accountable for their level of access to working class families," said Michael Dannenberg, a former Sen. Ted Kennedy aide who has made it his quest for the last decade to end preferences for the wealthy. "There's a confluence of events and circumstances that make it the right time to attack the host of preferences and policies that undermine diversity and fairness in higher education."


House Democrats have called for hearings to examine the role of wealth in admissions. "We'll have them at some point," Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), the former president of the University of Miami, told POLITICO Wednesday. "We need to look into how admissions people organized their work. I was surprised — this is basically using the walk-on process as an end run to get people on in a university. I have not seen very much of that. I've run a lot of universities. And I want to question the admissions people."


The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, plans to push legislation that would end the tax benefit for donations made to colleges before or during the enrollment of the donor family's children. "If the wealthy want to grease the skids, they shouldn't be able to do so at the expense of American taxpayers," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the panel's chairman, has also long been critical of the tax benefits that wealthy institutions receive. Michael Stratford has more.


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called the scandal "disgraceful" and said the Education Department is looking into whether parents and school officials involved broke any of the agency's rules, as well. More here.

The White House has so far said little , aside from snarky tweets from adviser Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. That could be because the Trump administration has not previously wanted to touch the role of money in elite college admissions, a former administration official told POLITICO. "The West Wing communicated that this is not a priority," the former official said. "The silence is deafening."


MEANWHILE IN TEXAS: Gov. Greg Abbott is urging every university in the state to take a look at their admissions practices after a tennis coach at University of Texas at Austin was charged with accepting bribes in the scandal. "It's important for every university to go back and re-evaluate, to study and to investigate, their admissions processes to make sure that nothing like this either is happening or can happen," Abbott said, according to The Texas Tribune. More.



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