The Fight for Perkins Continues-Contact Your Members of Congress Today!

On January 30, COHEAO conference delegates visited Capitol Hill and participated in more than 65 meetings to advocate for a Perkins extension and other issues relevant to their institutions and organizations. By far the most significant takeaway from these meetings is the importance of outreach to Members of Congress who represent your district or state. At least one member, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), after meeting with a conference delegate from the University of Hartford decided to sign on to the Senate version of the bipartisan Perkins extension bill.

While it can seem discouraging that leadership in the House and Senate has yet to move the extension bill forward, it is critical to remember that there is still the appropriations process and a Senate version of the Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization where we may see action taken. It is crucial to keep up frequent and robust advocacy efforts, particularly conveying personal stories and detailed information to Congressional offices on the loss of the program.  Especially useful in our meetings was our 2018 Negative Impact of Allowing Perkins to Expire survey, which provided offices with real stories about the negative impact to their constituents.

The next vehicle the Perkins extension can be attached to is the final FY 2018 spending bill or “omnibus” that will likely pass in March. It is critical that your institutions and schools continue to press Congressional Members for a fix in the appropriations process!

To that end, our primary focus right now is on the Appropriations Committee in the House and particularly the Subcommittee on Labor Health and Human Services and Education. A complete list of members on these committees can be found in those links, and is attached. Please review and if you have overlap with any Member of that committee, please reach out to them and ask them to support the Perkins Loan extension and to share their support with Committee Leadership and Representative Cole, who chairs the subcommittee.

It was also recommended that we particularly reach out to two members of the subcommittee:

  • Representative Martha Roby (R-AL, 2nd)
  • Representative John Moolenaar (R-MI, 4th)

If you have any connections or overlap with these offices, please reach out.

Another key takeaway from our recent hill meetings is that Members need to hear from school leadership. If you work for an institution, please ask your government affairs team and leadership to contact their Members of Congress about the importance of the Perkins Program.

COHEAO also continues to work on various advocacy efforts, including a sign-on letter for appropriators. In many of our hill meetings, offices expressed an interest in signing onto such a document as a way to show their support of the program, and we are hoping to finalize one soon.

Now is hardly the time to get discouraged and stall our advocacy efforts. We have all worked extraordinarily hard in our fight for the Perkins program and we’ve made tremendous progress. By continuing to work together, we have an opportunity to get Perkins extended and hope you will join in our efforts because we understand how critical Perkins is to your organizations, institutions and most importantly your students.  

If you have any questions, please email Greg Marak (gmarak@bosewashingtonpartners.com).

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