By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter
The House Appropriations Committee advanced, by a 32-24 vote along party lines, the fiscal year (FY) 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) spending bill, which contains an overall request of $86.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education (ED), an increase of $10.3 billion above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, but $1.6 billion less than President Joe Biden’s request for fiscal year 2023.
Chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) touted the bill’s $500 increase to the maximum Pell Grant and used remarks to highlight issues concerning the student loan portfolio.
“For years, too many borrowers participating in federal programs, like the income-based repayment or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, have not received a loan forgiveness they have been promised,” DeLauro said. “That is why I have pushed President Biden to correct these mistakes and provide the relief borrowers are entitled to by fixing these issues.”
Throughout the markup, Republicans remained opposed to the spending bill’s topline numbers.
FYI - House Appropriations Committee is now marking up its FY 2023 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, which provides a 15% increase for Dept. of Education programs. Watch at https://t.co/ZJIuKPFSVX— Cmte for Ed Funding (@edfunding) June 30, 2022
Much of the conversation focused on policies underlying the two other agencies housed within the annual spending bill, but there was some discussion centered around higher education.
The committee sparred on student loan forgiveness, with Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) offering an amendment that would prohibit the administration from carrying out any form of student loan debt cancellation.
Democrats said the language in the text was broad and would prohibit the administration from implementing targeted relief.
“The department is also working on new regulations that will permanently improve a variety of existing student loan relief programs, significantly reduce monthly payments, and provide greater protections for students and taxpayers against unaffordable debts,” DeLauro said. “In contrast, this misguided amendment would tie the hands of the Department of Education to prevent the Biden administration from making continued improvements to existing loan forgiveness programs, while also blocking any other forms of student debt relief.”
Hinson said the text of her amendment would allow for the continuation of federal relief programs that were in effect prior to March 2020 and that the intent of her proposal was to ensure that the White House does not implement “massive” cancellation of student loan debt.
Ultimately the amendment was rejected by a vote of 24-32.
The spending bill is currently expected to be taken up by the full House before the August recess.
For more information on the federal budget process, see NASFAA’s Federal Budget and Appropriations page and NASFAA’s budget FAQs and stay tuned to Today’s News for updates.
Publication Date: 7/1/2022
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