The game begins every February. The president unveils a budget plan that recommends killing a certain number of federal programs. Advocates for the programs raise bloody hell, promoting the programs' strengths and challenging the administration's arguments about the perceived weaknesses. And in almost every case, Congress backs the programs and gives them money to operate another year. Then the cycle starts anew the following February.
Three years after the University of Michigan won approval from the U.S. Supreme Court to use affirmative action (in some forms) in college admissions, voters in Michigan could strip the institution of the right to consider race when admitting students.
There is no shortage of higher education issues on Congress's agenda, chief among them renewal of the Higher Education Act, the law that governs most federal student aid and other college programs, and the possible extension of several higher education tax breaks.
But as lawmakers get back to business this week for what little remains of the 109th Congress, it seems increasingly likely that they will do as little as possible, focusing almost exclusively on the spending bills needed to keep the federal government operating.