Federal Relations

Senate Passes VA and Transportation Bill

The Senate has passed two key pieces of legislation clearing them for the President’s signature. The Senate has passed legislation overhauling the scandalized Department of Veterans Affairs, by a vote of  91-3. The House considered the measure earlier in the week. The measure contains provisions expanding Graduate Medical Education at VA Hospitals as well as

House Considers VA Conference Report

Both the House and Senate intend to bring to the floor this week a conference agreement to reform the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and increase transparency and services in the Department of Veterans Administration (VA). The House will be the first to consider, what has been a delicate and sometimes contentious agreement to create, the conference

Rep. Ryan Anti-Poverty Plan and Higher Education

On Thursday, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced what he is calling  a new anti-poverty plan that proposes sweeping changes to the safety net through a state-led pilot program. Announced at the the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Ryan’s plan calls for streamlining the student-aid system, capping federal loans to parents and graduate students, a database for tracking recipients of

Student Loan Interest Rates Rise

Annual student loan interest rates increase tomorrow, July 1st. This represents the first full year loan rates will be tied to the 10-year Treasury note under the deal struck by Congress last summer. Rates will rise from 3.86 to 4.66 percent for undergraduate Stafford loans, 5.41 to 6.21 percent for graduate Stafford loans and 6.41

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

Student Loan Bill Fails in Senate

The Senate failed to invoke cloture this morning and will not move forward on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) bill to refinance student debt. The Senate voted of 56-38, which is less than the 2/3rds required to move forward.

Cloture Filed on Student Loan Bill

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)  filed a cloture motion on proceeding to the student loan bill (S 2432) that would allow borrowers to refinance their old student loans at the current lower interest rates. The cloture vote would occur on Wednesday. Cloture, under the Senate rules, ends debate on the bill and allows for final

Senate VA Reform Agreement Includes In-State Tuition Provisions

Late last week, Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and John McCain (R-AZ) announced a deal to salvage sought-after Veterans Administration reform in the wake of the on-going VA scandal. The legislation would allow for the reform the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand veterans’ access to health care and make it easier to fire VA officials for misconduct.

Obama Aims to Ease Student Debt

President Obama announced today a new executive order aimed at easing student borrowers’ debt loads by capping repayments at 10 percent of their monthly income. Obama also made student loans the focus of his weekly address on Saturday, saying he’d be taking action this week. The executive order will expand on a 2010 law, the Bipartisan Student

The Week Ahead

This week lawmakers continue to debate FY2015 appropriations, student loans, and VA reform. Tonight, the House will vote on S. 1254, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013. The bill would authorize $20.5 million annually through 2018 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to reduce the effects of

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