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Senator Lamar Alexander Blocks FUTURE Act, Compromises Funding for HBCUs and Other MSIs

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Ashley Harrington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) Committee, blocked consideration of the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), extends important mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribally Controlled Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) set to expire at the end of this month. The House companion bill was passed earlier this week.

Despite the imminent threat of this funding lapse and broad bi-partisan support for the bill, Senator Alexander used this funding issue and already low-resourced schools to push his own policy agenda for a limited package of higher education bills. By objecting to the consensus vote, Alexander put timely passage of the bill at risk.

Ashley Harrington, Senior Policy Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, made the following statement:

Senator Lamar’s plan, as outlined today, fails to address many of the most pressing problems student borrowers currently face and puts HBCUs and MSIs in the midst of an unnecessary political tug-of-war.

We have a student debt crisis that has broad implications for individuals and the economy. The magnitude of this crisis requires comprehensive reform, not a piece-meal approach that only makes improvements at the margins. This reform should not come at the expense of low-resourced schools and low-income students who already bear more than their share of the burden of our costly system. The Senate should pass the FUTURE Act immediately so that Congress can then move on to pass a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that ensures equity, affordability, and accountability for current and future students and those with student debt.


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