The House PROSPER Act could go to the House floor for a vote next week. The Senate is not going to attempt a bipartisan version of reauthorization this Congress, but Senate Republicans could still produce a bill on their own. Call your Representative in the House and tell them to reject PROSPER and restart the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization effort in a bipartisan manner.
State of Play
The reauthorization of the HEA does not come around often. So, when it does, it’s a big deal. The last reauthorization of HEA occurred in 2008, and since then Congress has flirted with reauthorization but has not been successful.
Late last year, House Republicans introduced and passed out of the education committee their version of reauthorization, known as the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. Since that time, the committee Chairwoman, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), has been aggressively trying to build support for the bill in the Republican caucus. Several members of her own party have expressed concerns with various parts of the bill and have been reluctant to add their name to the list of supporters.
The House leadership has indicated to Rep. Foxx that if she can garner enough votes to pass the bill, they will find time on the floor for a vote during the week of June 18 (next week). While it remains unclear whether Chairwoman Foxx has the requisite number of supporters for the House leadership to move PROSPER to the floor, they are counting the votes this week—a sign that support for the bill is growing.
If this bill passes on the House floor, it will be one step closer to becoming law.
We cannot risk being complacent.
If you do not like what is in the bill related to graduate and professional education, call your member in the House of Representatives to tell them that the PROSPER Act will harm your students and community, and to vote NO if it comes to the floor.
If the bill does not appear on the floor next week, it could see a revival in July. Chairwoman Foxx is absolutely determined to have a vote on PROSPER. It should be noted, however, the closer we get to the mid-term elections without a vote, the less likely the bill will make it to floor for a vote.
At the beginning of this Congress, the Chairman of the Senate’s education committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), noted he wanted to do a bipartisan reauthorization of HEA, as he had done with the elementary and secondary education bill (known as the ESEA) just a few year ago. The Senate held a series of HEA hearings early this year to lay the groundwork for a rewrite.
The ranking member on the committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), indicated that she also wanted to do a comprehensive rewrite of HEA, but she had several concerns with how the bipartisan ESEA was being implemented at the Department of Education. Senator Murray made clear that once her concerns about ESEA were cleared up, she and Chairman Alexander could begin working on HEA.
Those concerns were never addressed to her satisfaction. As a result, at an education conference just last week, Chairman Alexander publicly indicated that the Senate would not write a bipartisan reauthorization of HEA this year. He did not preclude releasing a Republican-only bill.
His comments, and the mid-term elections this year, has effectively stalled HEA reauthorization in the Senate until the next Congress. However, it is important to continue to advocate against harmful changes in the House bill because these proposals could be resurrected in future negotiations surrounding HEA next year.
GET INVOLVED to ensure that these policies are not adopted by Congress. Contact your representatives today and tell them to VOTE NO! Only by hearing from their constituents like you will they reject these proposals.
For resources on how to engage your Members of Congress visit our #MakeTheCase website.