House Republicans grill Cardona over student loan repayment pause, other higher ed policies
Home Republicans tore into Schooling Secretary Miguel Cardona throughout a fiery committee hearing Tuesday, criticizing signature insurance policies just like the White Home’s plans to remodel Title IX rules and forgive mass quantities of pupil mortgage debt.
In the meantime, Democrats on the Home Committee on Schooling and the Workforce praised proposals to retool the federal monetary assist system, corresponding to a proposal to cut back how a lot debtors would pay again every month below income-driven pupil mortgage applications.
The Biden administration has made main coverage performs in larger schooling, beginning the regulatory course of to reshape all the things from on-line studying to accreditation and Title IX, the regulation banning sex-based discrimination in federally funded colleges.
The White Home’s regulatory agenda is bold, notably round efforts involving the Workplace of Federal Scholar Assist, which handles the federal authorities’s roughly $1.6 trillion pupil mortgage portfolio and helps to restart month-to-month pupil mortgage repayments.
The Trump administration enacted a fee freeze in 2020 due to the pandemic, however conservatives have grown pissed off as President Joe Biden has regularly prolonged it, criticism that Home Republicans repeated throughout Tuesday’s hours-long committee listening to.
Committee chair Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, requested Cardona to pledge to not draw out the freeze additional. It is because of finish two months after the U.S. Supreme Courtroom guidelines on Biden’s mass mortgage forgiveness program, or 60 days after the tip of June, whichever comes first.
Cardona didn’t firmly decide to no additional freezes. Foxx additionally wished to know the way the Schooling Division has suggested mortgage servicers to arrange for funds resuming.
The division has been recurrently speaking with them and with debtors, the secretary stated.
“A part of the success of the compensation plan shall be primarily based on how our debtors obtain info in a well timed method, in a transparent method, and we’ve engaged with our servicers to make sure that’s the expectation,” Cardona stated.
At occasions, the committee listening to turned combative, with a number of Republicans taking purpose on the Biden administration’s regulatory proposals on Title IX, which the federal authorities has used during the last decade or so to mitigate sexual assaults in faculties.
The Biden administration has drafted two Title IX rules, one which would broaden the sexual violence investigations faculties should undertake, and another that would stop blanket bans on transgender athletes collaborating in sports activities aligned with their gender identification.
Schooling Division officers have stated they’ll publish the ultimate model of the principles this month.
Committee Republicans accused the Biden administration of permitting transgender ladies to bathe and alter with different ladies athletes, claiming without evidence that letting them achieve this would endanger different college students.
Rep. Erin Houchin, an Indiana Republican, requested whether or not ladies athletes “being pressured” to vary with Lia Thomas, a widely known trans athlete, constituted sexual harassment. Throughout her remarks, she misgendered Thomas, who swam on the ladies’s group on the College of Pennsylvania.
Cardona requested whether or not she wish to talk about coverage deserves as a substitute. He gave this reply to different lawmakers who posed transphobic questions.
Republicans additionally accused the division of being unwilling to offer requested info.
Rep. Lisa McClain, a Michigan Republican, grew exasperated with Cardona. After he wouldn’t give a agency date to offer McClain division information on sure mortgage discharges, she requested him what the colour of his go well with was.
“I’m attempting to determine whether or not we are able to reply a query,” McClain stated.
Cardona later informed Foxx the division would comply with info requests.
Glimmers of bipartisanship
Some exchanges had been extra substantive. A number of Republicans questioned how the Schooling Division is addressing Part 117, a part of federal regulation that requires faculties to report overseas presents and contracts price $250,000 or extra in a calendar 12 months.
The Trump administration prioritized enforcement of this regulation, and Cardona stated the company has processed and made public 34,000 studies from faculties in the previous few years.
And Rep. Mark Takano, a California Democrat, requested Cardona his ideas on regulating on-line program managers.
OPMs facilitate distance studying applications for faculties, however have been accused of driving up the cost of online education. Takano was amongst a number of Home representatives that recently urged the Schooling Division to rescind 2011 steering that allowed OPMs to recruit college students for faculties, as long as they’re offered as half of a bigger bundle of providers.
The Schooling Division is reviewing this coverage, doubtlessly threatening the enterprise fashions of many OPMs.
Glimmers of bipartisanship additionally emerged round lawmakers’ need to open federal Pell Grants, a major type of monetary assist, to college students enrolled in short-term educational applications. Republicans and Democrats alike have launched payments that might permit this.
Client safety advocates have expressed fears that loosening these guidelines would trigger college students to waste their monetary assist on applications with poor outcomes.