This weekend, the Senate is expected to conduct a key procedural vote, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed for cloture to begin consideration of the Senate health care reform bill. If the Senate is able to get the 60 necessary votes, it will begin consideration of the Senate health care legislation. Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Reid noted yesterday that the Senate will not use the reconciliation process for health care. It is unclear what other procedural alternatives would remain for health care if the Senate does not get cloture on the bill.
Congress is still on track to utilize the reconciliation process for education, but the Senate is still waiting for action to be determined on health care before it considers the education reconciliation bill. The Senate’s education reconciliation bill is expected to contain the American Graduation Initiative (AGI). ACCT is hopeful that the Senate will provide greater funding for the American Graduation Initiative than the House bill provided.
Meanwhile, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Ranking Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, introduced legislation to extend the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA). ECASLA was passed in 2008 and helped stabilize the student loan market by allowing the Department of Education to purchase Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL). The Administration and the Education Committee Chairmen have signaled that they will not seek to extend ECASLA because the proposed conversion of the FFEL to the Direct Loan program will make the extension unnecessary.