From Your Lobbyist: Cardona, Greene, budget reconciliation.
February 8, 2021
Week of Feb 1-5
This Week’s Events:
- Miguel Cardona Confirmation Hearing: On Wednesday, February 3, Dr. Miguel Cardona appeared before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, now chaired by Senator Murray (D-WA) to discuss his nomination to be the new Secretary of Education. While the hearing was relatively uncontroversial compared to the last confirmation of former Secretary Devos’, Dr. Cardona had a chance to shed some light on his views about public education, higher education, and workforce opportunities for students. During the hearing, Senator Warren asked him about whether or not he supports student debt cancellation and how he would address the borrowers most impacted by the debt burden. Without specifying the mechanism by which lawmakers should cancel debt, Cardona did indeed agree that student debt needs to be cancelled, explaining this debt burden “exacerbated the haves and the have nots.” On the flip side, Senator Burr (R-NC), newly appointed Ranking Member of the Committee totally disagreed with the idea of putting the burden of student debt onto taxpayers rather than the borrowers.
- Marjorie Taylor Greene Removed from Education and Labor Committee: After her disgraceful attacks on Parkland survivors and many other inappropriate actions, the House voted to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her responsibilities on committees by a vote of 230-199. The decision was backed by 11 Republicans in the House and a wide-range of education organizations that strongly felt her actions “demonstrated a woeful disregard for the truth and for the students the Education and Labor Committee serves.” Her complete disregard for the truth, her highly offensive behavior towards the BIPOC community, and her willingness to amplify conspiracy theories led to this decision which means her influence in Congress is now severely diminished.
Policies We’re Advocating For:
- Budget Reconciliation & COVID Relief: On Monday, House Budget Committee chair John Yarmuth (D-KY) introduced a fiscal year 2021 budget resolution that includes reconciliation instructions to 12 House committees, including the Education and Labor Committee. Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a similar budget resolution with reconciliation instructions to 11 Senate committees, including the HELP Committee, with jurisdiction over education. The resolutions instruct the committees to report legislation with costs up to specified amounts by February 16, meaning the education committees can write legislation that increases the deficit by a fixed amount. Many are wondering if student debt will be cancelled via reconciliation, but that is unlikely given the constraints on the increase to the deficit within these specific bills. However, Biden is still committed to forgiving student loans via a different legislative vehicle. Lastly, While Biden tried in earnest to work across the aisle with Republicans to pass another COVID-19 relief bill, Republicans would not agree to another emergency bill with a $1.9 trillion price tag. It is very likely that the next COVID-19 relief bill will be passed via a reconciliation bill, where it only needs 50 votes in the Senate to pass.