Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would provide $550 billion in new spending if it clears the House and is signed into law. APLU’s updated analysis of provisions of interest to APLU institutions is available here.
Following passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Senate passed a budget resolution to unlock a simple majority vote for a $3.5 trillion comprehensive spending package in coming months. The budget resolution framework provides instructions for committees to begin drafting detailed spending legislation for ultimate passage this fall.
In a memo to Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the framework, based on President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, would “allow every major program proposed by President Biden to receive robust funding.” The budget resolution framework includes several proposals of interest to APLU institutions, including an increase to the maximum Pell grant award; new investments in HBCUs and other MSIs; school infrastructure, student success grants, and educator investments; workforce development and job training; agricultural climate research and research infrastructure; National Science Foundation research and technology directorate; research, manufacturing, and economic development; investments in technology and transportation; research infrastructure for Department of Energy National Labs; Environmental Protection Agency climate and research programs; and lawful permanent status for qualified immigrants.
The bill also instructs the Senate Finance Committee to find $1 billion in deficit reduction measures to help pay for these new investments. As the memo to Senate Democrats notes, “The framework includes a mix of policies within the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee that both increase and decrease outlays and increase and decrease revenues.” Proposed new investments include paid family and medical leave; clean energy, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives; SALT cap relief; and other investments that may include APLU tax priorities such as reinstating advance refunding and direct-pay bonds.
It is not yet clear when the House will vote on the measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated she will not bring the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House floor until a budget resolution clears the Senate and is sent to the House for a vote.
Biden Administration Extends Freeze on Student Loan Repayments
Last week, the Department of Education (ED) announced an extension on the pause of student loan repayment, interest, and collections until January 31, 2022. ED stated January 31 is a definitive end date, allowing time for borrowers to plan and prepare for the resumption of repayments and “reduce the risk of delinquency and defaults after restart.” The Department intends to notify borrowers of the extension in the coming days as well as “release resources and information about how to plan for payment restart as the end of the pause approaches.”
Last month, APLU and higher education partners sent a letter to ED requesting guidance on the administration’s plans to transition federal student loan borrowers back into repayment.
APLU, Public University Associations Express Support for College Completion Fund
APLU, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities sent a letter to House and Senate leadership today in support of the $62 billion College Completion Fund included in the American Families Plan. The letter argues the fund would complement existing federal investments in college access while allowing for critical resources needed to ensure students make it into college, through their degree program, and successfully transition into the workforce.
APLU, Other Associations Urge Congress to Protect Dreamers
In light of the July 16 court decision by a Texas federal judge ruling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program illegal, APLU joined higher education community partners on a letter to House and Senate leadership underscoring the urgent need to pass bipartisan legislation to provide permanent legal protection for DACA recipients and all Dreamers. The letter references a 2019 request to Congress, signed by over 600 colleges and universities, to protect Dreamers following President Trump’s attempt to rescind the program and emphasizes the great contributions of Dreamers to our society.