House Education and Workforce Committee Passes PROSPER Act, Will Move to the Floor in 2018

Written by: Greg Marak (gmarak@wpllc.net)

December 14, 2017

On December 1, 2017, House Education and the Workforce Republicans, led by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) unveiled their comprehensive Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization proposal. This week, after amendments were added and voted on, the bill cleared the committee in a vote along party lines, 23-17.

A summary of the entire markup and all its amendments, prepared by Washington Partners, is attached.  No major changes were made to the underlying text.  Several amendments by Democrats were offered that would have made significant changes, including one that would have reauthorized the Perkins Loan program. Proposed by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the reauthorization of Perkins was included in an amendment that also would restore the Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program, and “improve” the federal work study program. Unfortunately, the amendment failed by a vote of 17-22.

When she spoke about her amendment, Bonamici noted the importance of Perkins to borrowers from lower income families, and also noted fellow Education and Workforce Committee member Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-NY) introduction of H.R. 2482, the Perkins Loan Extension Act.

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) also spoke in favor of the Perkins program, again highlighting its bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC) spoke to the need for Perkins at HBCUs. When stating opposition to the amendment, Chairwoman Foxx said that it does little but “preserve the failing status quo.”

Other Democratic amendments included one encouraging more refinancing into federal loans and one that would have re-instated public service loan forgiveness ( PSLF).  All were defeated along party lines.  Of note, two Republicans broke with the rest of the majority on the amendment that would keep PSLF.

Republican staff believe that Foxx won’t bring the PROSPER Act to the floor of the House until spring, although that could change.  She is clearly hoping to pressure Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander to take action before full House action.  Attached is a letter COHEAO sent to committee members prior to the markup.

HEAMarkupSumm12.13.17

COHEAOProsper121117 (2)

 

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