Federal Relations

June 25, 2014

Higher Ed Legislation Advances

Today Senate HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) will introduce his plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The Higher Education Affordability Act focuses on four goals: Increasing college affordability, helping struggling borrowers, strengthening accountability, and improving transparency. These goals will be achieved through 21 action points, including tightening for-profit regulations, better accountability metrics for colleges and universities, and a reduction in loan borrower fees.

The Harkin proposal overlaps ever so slightly with goals outlined yesterday by Congressman John Kline (R-MN) and House Education & the Workforce Committee Republicans. Kline plans to introduce the first of a series of HEA-related bills, which will revolve around transparency, accountability, a simplified aid system, and limited federal regulation. We expect to see this bill later in the week.

Also today, the Senate will take up the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which would modernize the workforce education system in the U.S. Democratic Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and GOP Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) both spent years negotiating the long overdue reauthorization. Lawmakers will consider the bill under a unanimous consent agreement. This is the first significant step in years toward reauthorization.

And finally, House Ways and Means Committee will mark up today a pair of bills addressing the child tax credit and education tax credits.The education tax bill would streamline a laundry list of credits and expand and make permanent the existing American Opportunity Tax Credit. The Child Tax Credit bill, introduced Monday by Congresswomen Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), would expand the number of individuals and families who can access the credit by increasing the income threshold from $110,000 to $150,000 for joint filers.