NAICU Washington Update

Perkins Loans Reauthorization Bid Fails

October 03, 2017

Attempts to reauthorize the Perkins Loan program, and save a critical student aid resource, have been blocked in the Senate.
A motion by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for the Senate to pass the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017 by unanimous consent was challenged by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), preventing the motion from moving forward. In effect, the objection blocks the legislation from floor consideration unless Sen. Alexander lifts his opposition to the legislation. Given his seemingly steadfast commitment to “one grant, one loan” and his defiant comments on the Senate floor, it seems unlikely that Senator Alexander will lift his opposition to the legislation.
In the House, majority whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced that he has no intention to bring a Perkins reauthorization bill to the floor for consideration. 
All hope is not yet lost. While the program’s September 30 termination date has passed, Perkins Loans advocates may remember that Congress passed a retroactive two-year extension in December 2015, more than two months after the program had expired. Overcoming congressional opposition, and finding an approximately $5 billion offset to the legislation, will be particularly challenging.
Sen. Alexander’s fierce opposition to Perkins, and firm commitment to “one grant, one loan,” also raises red flags about the future of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program. While the SEOG program still enjoys broad bipartisan support and does not face the same funding challenges as the Perkins Loan program, federal student aid advocates should be aware that the SEOG program could be vulnerable if the “one grant, one loan” policy agenda is fulfilled. 

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