Student Loans

One-Tenth of Congress Lists Student Loan Liabilities
‘I don’t understand how young people can become teachers or work in the public service arena’

California Rep. Mark Takano, a House Education member, is still paying back student loans for a 2010 master’s degree from UC Riverside. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 115th Congress scored as one of the richest ever, but one in 10 lawmakers still holds student loan debt, either personally or for a family member. 

Fifty-three members listed a combined $1.8 million in student loans on their financial disclosures. Twenty-eight of them posted a positive net worth while 25 showed negative net worth in Roll Call’s comprehensive Wealth of Congress project.

Opinion: The Attack on the CFPB Threatens Consumers and Ignites a Race to the Bottom
Mulvaney’s zealous pursuit of deregulation also hurts our economy

Comedian Jon Stewart, center, flanked by New York Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, speaks during a press conference on March 5, calling on OMB Director Mick Mulvaney to withdraw his proposal to separate the World Trade Center Health Program from the direction of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health direction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As a congressman, Mick Mulvaney once co-sponsored a bill to abolish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And since being appointed by President Donald Trump to temporarily lead the agency, he has worked to cripple it from the inside.

What he is doing will hurt consumers not once but twice — first, by letting off the hook financial institutions that take advantage of their customers, and second, by giving other companies large incentives to do the same.

Maybe They’re Too Rich for Congress?
Seventeen members departing the Capitol are millionaires

California Rep. Darrell Issa is not running for a 10th term this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The wealthy are heading for the exits.

So far, 44 current lawmakers, or one in 12, have announced they are retiring at the end of the year or seeking new offices away from the Capitol. And collectively, they now account for nearly a third of the $2.43 billion in cumulative riches of the 115th Congress.

Kentucky Colleges Get a Boost From Budget Deal
Host of tax code goodies tucked into bipartisan agreement

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., make their way to the Senate floor after announcing a two-year deal on the budget earlier in the day on February 7, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

At least two colleges in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky would come out winners under the sweeping budget accord unveiled Wednesday.

For starters, the budget legislation would amend the brand new tax code overhaul to help out Kentucky’s Berea College, which would otherwise be subject to a new 1.4 percent tax on private college and university endowments. GOP leaders’ intent had been to exempt Berea and others that provide free tuition, but they ran into a sticky procedural thicket in the Senate that cost the Kentucky school in the final bill.

Higher Education Bill Expected in Senate Soon
“I see a consensus emerging that is student focused,” Alexander says

HELP Committee leaders Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray are both hoping to move on the Higher Education Act reauthorization soon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee appeared Thursday to agree on a number of provisions they would like to see in a new bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, which would streamline student loans.

Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said at a hearing that he hopes to have a Senate version of the reauthorization ready “by early spring.” A House reauthorization bill was approved by the Education and the Workforce Committee on a 23-17 party-line vote in December.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, shown here in 2013, are throwing their weight behind legislation to promote evidence-based policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

Senate Tax Positions Prevail in Conference, House GOP Doesn’t Care
Concerns muted amid political imperative to achieve a legislative victory

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, left, and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, led negotiations on the GOP tax overhaul conference committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The tax overhaul conference report looks a lot like the Senate bill. Senate negotiators prevailed on most of the major issues — and House Republicans say they’re fine with that.

House Republicans interviewed for this story said they will support the final product despite it being very different from the one they voted on in November, with reasons ranging from specific provisions they championed to the overall benefits of the sweeping package.

Landmark GOP Tax Bill Poised for Final Passage
Measure may pass through both chambers before Christmas

Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, left, and Ways and Means chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, have steered a tax bill that would be the the first major tax overhaul in 30 years. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans late Friday unveiled their final plan to overhaul the tax code, a sweeping measure that aims to lower taxes on businesses and individuals, open up parts of Alaska to oil drilling and roll back a key piece of the 2010 health care law.

The massive measure is likely to pass both chambers early next week. Momentum for the landmark package grew throughout the day Friday, capped off with a surprise announcement from Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that he would back the final bill after opposing a previous version.

Senate GOP to Delay Corporate Tax Cut, Repeal ‘SALT’ Deduction
Finance Committee releases plan highlights

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven at a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 5:25 p.m. | Senate Republicans proposed Thursday to delay a corporate tax cut for one year and fully repeal the deduction for state and local taxes, taking a different approach than the House on overhauling the tax code.

The plan highlights released by the Senate Finance Committee show shared goals with the House bill advanced by the Ways and Committee on Thursday. Both would provide tax cuts at all income levels, slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and expand benefits for families with children. For multinational companies, the proposals would shift to a new territorial tax regime.

McConnell Seeks Exception to Rules for School
Kentucky Republican wants to keep federal funding for home-state college

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s amendment would provide flexibility on default rates to schools in economically depressed regions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is asking the Education Department to skirt its rules and make an exception to provide federal dollars to a college in his home state — even though a high percentage of its graduates defaulted on their students loans for the last three years.

McConnell’s move is part of a larger debate about the criteria to determine whether a college should receive federal funding or be cut off. Currently, the Education Department uses data on what is known as the cohort default rate — or how many of a college’s graduates default on their loans — to decide whether the school is a good investment for taxpayer money.