This Week In Washington
Both Chambers have returned for their post-Labor Day work, and at the top of Congress’ to-do list is funding the government for the next year.
This week the Senate held its public hearings for the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to be the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Among the various issues discussed, Judge Kavanaugh said he could not comment on the constitutionality of using race in admissions because it would be an issue likely before the Court. On the third day, Democrats started releasing documents that were not previously public, which resulted in Judge Kavanaugh answering more questions about his positions that were seemingly at odds with what he stated in the prior hearing days. You can watch the entire hearings: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
This week, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, named the House conferees to negotiate the final bill that will fund the Department of Education (ED). Recall that the Senate passed its education spending bill in late August, but the House had not yet passed its version. The Senate version continued funding for the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but the House version did not. In any event, Speaker Ryan decided that the House would not take up its version at all and would instead go directly to conference with the Senate. Thus, it is expected that few changes will occur, and something very close to the Senate’s version will be the final bill.
On Wednesday, the House passed, by a 406–4 vote, H.R. 1635, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, sponsored by Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02), the chair of the Higher Education subcommittee of the House education committee. The bill would require student loan borrowers to receive annual loan counseling and enhance current loan counseling to be more comprehensive and tailored to individual students. The bill would also improve exit counseling to include things like an outstanding loan balance summary and the anticipated monthly payments under standard and income-based repayment plans. There were seven amendments, all adopted by voice vote, including one that allowed institutions to require even more loan counseling, provided the additional counseling was not a prerequisite for disbursing funds. The bill now heads to the Senate, but it is not expected to be taken up anytime soon.
News You Can Use
CNBC recounts the experience of a federal student loan borrower who successfully navigated the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program process and notes he is unusual because most borrowers are having difficulty with the program.
No relevant student aid bills have been recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress (2017-2018).