NAICU Washington Update

More than Half the U.S. Senate Calls for Reauthorization of Perkins Loan Program

October 30, 2015

A bipartisan group of 54 senators, led by Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Casey (D-PA), Collins (R-ME), and Portman (R-OH), sent a letter to Senate leadership calling for the immediate consideration of legislation that would extend the Perkins Loan program for one year.

The Higher Education Extension Act, which extends the Perkins Loan program for one additional year, passed the House of Representatives unanimously. That same legislation has run into the opposition of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) who believes elimination of Perkins Loans, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and the state LEAP program would make student aid simpler and, therefore, more understandable to students.

Due to Senate procedure, most legislative efforts need the support of 60 senators in order to have a chance at passage. Because a single senator has the right to filibuster any piece of legislation, U.S. Senate procedure typically requires unanimous consent in order to take up a bill for consideration. It was under these ground rules that Alexander’s objection could hold up a Senate vote.

Perkins Loan advocates in the U.S. Senate have made it clear they intend to continue to fight for the passage of the Higher Education Extension Act in the Senate. It is expected that these Senators will continue to make motions to bring the legislation to the floor and search for alternative legislative vehicles.

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