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House Passes Student Loan Bill: All Eyes On Senate Now

By Alyson Klein — September 17, 2009 1 min read
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So that bombshell student loan bill we’ve told you about passed the House just a little while ago, by a vote of 253 to 171.

Although the bill’s provisions on student loans were attracting most of the attention and controversy, the interesting part for K-12 is the funding set aside for school facilities, or about $4 billion over two years. There’s also $1 billion annually for prekindergarten programs doled out to states competitively (seems a little bit like a pre-K version of the $4 billion Race to the Top fund, at least to me).

Plus there’s money for community colleges, including for K-12ish activities, such as dual enrollment programs. It’s a very P-16ish bill.

The bill’s passage today wasn’t really in doubt, since Democrats control the House. The interesting part? Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the brand-new chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, put out a statement just moments after the bill’s passage, congratulating the House and saying that he plans to introduce “similar” legislation.

A Senate Democratic aide told me Harkin’s bill, which will likely get committee consideration in the coming weeks, will include money for prekindergarten, community colleges, and school facilities. No word though on just how much.

But Republicans over on the Senate side, including deficit hawks like Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, are worried about the House bill’s cost. (More on that here). House GOP lawmakers expressed similar concerns during floor debate, but expect those arguments to get even more consideration over on the Senate side.

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