“A college education should be a path to prosperity not a path to indebtedness, but student loan debt is holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation because it addresses the student loan debt crisis by providing relief to close to half a million Wisconsin borrowers. This crisis demands action and this commonsense legislation will help give students a fair shot at getting ahead and building a stronger future for themselves.”
America’s College Promise Act
The America’s College Promise Act is aimed at providing students a stronger and more affordable opportunity to gain the skills they need to compete, succeed and prosper by making an investment in workforce readiness, our economy and our future. The legislation creates a new partnership between the federal government and states to help them waive resident tuition in two years of community and technical college programs for eligible students, while promoting key reforms to accelerate student success. By making the America’s College Promise Act a reality, a full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year. If all states participated under this program, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. My legislation provides a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by a state to waive community college tuition and fees for eligible students before other financial aid is applied. It ensures that programs offer academic credits that are fully transferable to four-year institutions in their state, or occupational training that leads to credentials in an in-demand industry. Additionally, this legislation establishes a new grant program to provide pathways to success at minority serving institutions, like historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions, by helping them cover a significant portion of tuition and fees for the first two years of attendance for low-income students.
“Higher education should be a path to shared prosperity, not a path into suffocating debt. But unfortunately, college costs and student loan debt are holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country. America needs out-educate the rest of the world in order to better compete in a 21st century, skills based economy. The America’s College Promise Act is an investment in workforce readiness and our economy. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with the help of my friend Congressman Scott, and with the full support of the Administration, in order to give all students the opportunity to gain the skills they need to compete, succeed, and prosper.”
The Working Student Act
The Working Student Act would allow students who must work while in college to complete their degrees more quickly and with less debt. The legislation increases the amount working students can earn without that income counting against them in accessing need-based federal financial aid, including Pell Grants.
"Currently, working students are eligible for less financial aid due to their work income. I don’t believe this is fair and I don’t believe hardworking students should be penalized for trying to keep up with the increasing cost of education. One thing is clear – college education should be a path to the middle class, not a path to indebtedness. There is a lot more we can do in Washington to respect and reward hard work, and give a much-needed break to people struggling to build a stronger future for themselves, their families and for America. I also strongly believe that America needs to out-educate the rest of the world in order to better compete in a 21st century, skills-based economy.”
Saving Perkins Student Loans
Senator Baldwin led a bipartisan Senate coalition to reauthorize the Perkins loan program, which expired on September 30, 2015, cutting off the ability for approximately 1,500 colleges and universities across the country to make low-interest loans to new borrowers and leaving 150,000 students who have just started college in the lurch. Saving the Perkins loans program was important to Senator Baldwin because in Wisconsin, the program provides more than 20,000 low-income students with more than $41 million in aid.
“When I travel around my home state of Wisconsin, one of the things I hear the most from my constituents is their frustration that Congress isn’t doing enough to make higher education more affordable and accessible. I remain committed to fighting on behalf of programs like Perkins as we explore a long-term solution to strengthening and improving federal supports for higher education. To the students, advocates, colleges and universities in Wisconsin, and across America, who never let up and held their elected officials accountable in this fight -- I’m proud to be your partner in the United States Senate as we work together to build a stronger future.”
Every student in America deserves a fair shot at a higher education and a path to the middle class. A highly educated workforce also helps our nation compete in a global economy. By 2020, an estimated 65 percent of job openings will require postsecondary education or training. At the same time, approximately 100 million adults in America today have no college experience. Students should have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century—without drowning in student debt.
Nearly a century ago, a movement made high school widely available, which helped lead to rapid growth in the education and skills training of Americans, driving decades of economic growth and prosperity. In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to make a bold investment in our nation’s students, its workforce and the future of our economy by making two years of community college free.
In July 2015, Senator Baldwin answered the call with the America’s College Promise Act, aimed at providing students a stronger and more affordable opportunity to gain the skills they need to compete, succeed and prosper by making an investment in workforce readiness, our economy and our future.
Modeled after successful state programs in Oregon and Tennessee, the America’s College Promise Act makes two years of community college free and provides an affordable pathway for low-income students to a four-year college degree. The legislation would give students the opportunity to access quality and affordable higher education that gives them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.
Senator Tammy Baldwin:
“Higher education should be a path to shared prosperity, not a path into suffocating debt. But unfortunately, college costs and student loan debt are holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country. America needs out-educate the rest of the world in order to better compete in a 21st century, skills based economy. The America’s College Promise Act is an investment in workforce readiness and our economy. I’m proud to champion this legislation in order to give all students the opportunity to gain the skills they need to compete, succeed, and prosper.”
Under the America’s College Promise Act, a full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, if all states participated under this program, an estimated 9.8 million total students could benefit by 2025. This legislation:
Creates a new partnership between the federal government and states and Indian tribes to help them waive resident tuition in two years of community and technical college programs for eligible students, while promoting key reforms to accelerate student success;
Provides a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by the state to waive community college tuition and fees for eligible students before other financial aid is applied;
Ensures that programs offer academic credits which are fully transferable to four-year institutions in their state, or occupational training that leads to credentials in an in-demand industry;
Maintains and encourages state funding for higher education; and
Establishes a new grant program to provide pathways to success at minority serving institutions by helping them cover a significant portion of tuition and fees for the first two years of attendance for low-income students.
"Now, in an economy that's constantly changing, we've also got to give every American the chance to earn the skills they need to stay competitive. That’s why we've got to be investing in job training and apprenticeships that help folks earn the skills for that new job or better-paying job. That's why we should make community college free for responsible students -- like Tammy Baldwin is introducing in the United States Senate. No middle-class family should be priced out of the education that they need."
The America’s College Promise Act is cosponsored by over 80 members of the House of Representatives and the following members of the United States Senate: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
The legislation has also been endorsed by: AFL-CIO, Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Asian American and Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities (APIACU), Asian and Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund (APIASF), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Campaign for America’s Future, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Consumers Union, Generation Progress, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), National Education Association (NEA), National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Skills Coalition, One Wisconsin Now, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Student Debt Crisis, The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension, and Wisconsin Technical College System.
Learn more about the America’s College Promise Acthere.
In the letter, Baldwin urged the committee to improve design and safety standards and increase funding for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund. This funded first responder training along rail routes and increased research and inspection of rail lines.
Baldwin called for the meeting on behalf of community members concerned about the rail expansion’s impact on the La Crosse River Marsh.
July, 21, 2014 – Baldwin co-sponsors the RESPONSE Act.
The RESPONSE Act would form a subcommittee under FEMA’s National Advisory Council to bring together relevant agencies, emergency responders, technical experts and the private sector for a review of training, resources, best practices and unmet needs related to emergency responders to railroad hazmat incidents.
Baldwin was joined by U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) in writing to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration urging the agencies to strengthen their proposed rules on the transportation of crude oil via railroad.
September 22, 2014 – Baldwin meets with Citizens Acting for Rail Safety (CARS).
In the meeting with local stakeholders, Baldwin viewed pictures of BNSF bridges in the La Crosse area that are in various states of disrepair.
The bipartisan appropriations bill mandates the release of the DOT/PHMSA rule on rail cars shipping oil by January 15, 2015, two months earlier than DOT’s most recent timeline for completing the rule. The bill also includes:
•$2 million for the design, testing, and evaluation of safer oil tank rail cars. This funding will increasing the rate at which obsolete and dangerous tank cars are removed from service. Baldwin advocated for both provisions in her public comments on the DOT/PHMSA proposed rule.
•$187 million for safety and operations at the Federal Railroad Administration.
•$3 million for the automated track inspection program, including amounts for automated car for inspection of crude oil routes and $370,000 for five new safety inspectors at FRA.
•$10 million in grants for track improvements and crossings on routes that transport crude oil.
•$28 million for emergency preparedness grants that can be used for training for hazardous material accidents on railroads.
•$39.1 million for railroad research and development.
Senator Baldwin was joined by U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) in requesting that the Wisconsin DNR require BNSF Railway to complete an EIS prior to their planned track expansion through the City of La Crosse and along the La Crosse River Marsh. The purpose of an EIS is to examine the environmental consequences of a proposed project so that officials and the public can fully understand the impact an expansion could have on this sensitive ecosystem.
Senator Baldwin urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to finalize a rule to increase oil tank car safety after the agencies missed their deadline. The agencies were required by law to have completed the rule by January 15, 2015.
Senator Baldwin cosponsors the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Act, legislation to improve emergency preparedness and training for first responders and provide needed support to help emergency personnel better respond to hazardous incidents, such as crude oil train derailments and other hazmat situations.
Senator Baldwin and Representative Ron Kind sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to take immediate action and issue final guidance to address oil train safety. The letter also includes Baldwin and Kind’s specific proposals to strengthen the recommended rules after recent accidents, including one in neighboring Galena, Illinois, have demonstrated the need for improvements.
Baldwin joined 20 other Senators in calling for robust investment in a Safe Transportation of Energy Products program to address increasing safety concerns related to the transportation of Bakken crude and other energy products. The Senators also called for increased funding for crude-by-rail safety efforts conducted by agencies such as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Substances Administration (PHMSA), and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Baldwin joined Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in introducing legislation that would set strong new safety standards for trains hauling volatile crude oil, to better protect American communities along the tracks. The Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015 requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to draft new regulations to mitigate the volatility of gases in crude oil shipped via tank car and immediately halt the use of older-model tank cars that have been shown to be at high risk for puncturing and catching fire in derailments. Baldwin and Cantwell held a press conference unveiling the oil train safety legislation.
The closing of Baldwin's statement: "Without our consent or even notification, Wisconsin has become one of the busiest routes for dangerous oil train traffic in the nation. While we bear all the risks and endure the sleepless nights, most of the benefits of this boom are being felt beyond Wisconsin’s borders. In fact, rail shippers in the state have been unable to get their goods to market because Wisconsin’s rails are filled with oil trains. I have worked at the federal level to limit the dangers posed by these trains, and will continue to do so. I again thank Chairman Bauman for holding this important and timely meeting, and look forward to working with all of you to keep Wisconsin’s communities safe."
Baldwin stated: “Today the Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration released much-anticipated final rules to update safety standards governing the transportation of crude oil by rail. While I am glad that the Administration is finally taking steps to protect our communities, I have serious concerns with these rules. Inadequate tank cars will be allowed to continue carrying volatile crude oil until 2020 and in some cases—indefinitely. While I understand concerns about allowing time for industry to adjust to new standards, I believe that tank cars without thermal protection are inappropriate for shipping crude oil, period. Congress should pass legislation that speeds up the phase out of these dangerous cars and I am hopeful that my Republican colleagues will join our effort to do so as we work to keep Wisconsin communities safe.”
Baldwin was joined by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in sending a letter urging U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx to enact stronger disclosure requirements on railroads regarding shipments of highly flammable Bakken crude oil. The letter was sent on the same day as a derailment in Wells County, North Dakota, which prompted evacuation of the small town of Heimdal. It marked the fifth serious crude-by-rail accident in North America since the start of February.
In La Crosse, Baldwin was joined by local first responders and concerned citizens to highlight the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act and the dangers faced by Wisconsin communities as volatile oil train traffic increases.
In Milwaukee, Baldwin was joined by local first responders and concerned citizens to highlight the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act and the dangers faced by Wisconsin communities as volatile oil train traffic increases.
June 25, 2015 – Baldwin supports FY 2016 Senate THUD Appropriations bill to increase funding for FRA
Baldwin, a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, supported the Senate Fiscal Year 2016 THUD Appropriations bill that provides an increase in funding for the Federal Railroad Administration over last year’s levels. It includes $288 million for rail safety and research programs including inspectors and training to help ensure the safety of passengers and local communities.
July 10, 2015 – Baldwin calls for federal inspection of Milwaukee bridge carrying oil trains
Transparency: Senator Baldwin’s amendment would require that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) keep on file the most recent bridge inspection report prepared by a private railroad bridge owner and provide that report to appropriate state and local officials upon request. After hearing from concerned citizens and elected officials in Wisconsin, earlier this month Senator Baldwin sent a letter to the FRA urging more transparency as state and local seek information on bridge safety.
Real-Time Reporting: Senator Baldwin’s amendment addresses concerns raised by the first responder community who would like real-time access to information about hazmat trains entering their jurisdictions in order to better prepare. This amendment modified the bill’s original language that only required real-time hazmat train information to go to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fusion Centers, who then provide the information to local first responders only in the event of an accident, when it is less useful. Senator Baldwin’s amendment requires DHS Fusion Centers to provide the real-time information to state and local first responders at least 12 hours prior to a hazmat train arriving in their jurisdiction. The transmission must include the train’s expected time of arrival.
Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans: The Senate bill requires railroads to maintain a plan for responding to a worst-case oil discharge. This provision is similar, but not as robust as the policy included in Senator Baldwin’s Crude-By-Rail Safety Act, which would leave much of the discretion of the contents and submission of the report up to the federal regulatory agencies. The provision included in the Senate bill instead defers to the rail carriers.
Rail Carrier Liability Study: The Senate bill requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to initiate a study on the appropriate levels of insurance for railroads carrying hazardous materials.
“I called for an inspection of the bridge in July and I’m pleased that has happened. The Federal Railroad Administration has reviewed Canadian Pacific’s inspection reports and found the bridge satisfactory, however the fact remains that local government officials still do not have access to the inspection reports and they should...”
As U.S. House and Senate negotiators get to work on a long-term federal transportation compromise, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin called on the conference committee to include several oil train provisions she has championed to increase safety and transparency along Wisconsin’s oil train routes. A few days before, two trains carrying hazardous materials derailed in Wisconsin, making it clear that reforms are needed now more than ever.
“I have been sounding the alarm for two years on the need to put in place strong rail safety reforms. These two train derailments in Wisconsin are more evidence why Congress needs to take action on the reforms I have proposed,” said Senator Baldwin. “Today I am calling on the House and Senate conference committee to include the reforms I have proposed in the final transportation bill. We need to put in place rail reforms that provide safety, transparency, and better communication between the railroads and local first responders and communities.”
The United States Senate voted 83-16 to approve a bipartisan, five-year transportation funding bill that includes several provisions championed by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin aimed at increasing safety and transparency along Wisconsin’s oil train routes.
“I am so grateful to the advocates, first responders, local officials, and concerned citizens who have spoken out and demanded increased transparency, communication and accountability when it comes to keeping our Wisconsin communities along oil train routes safe,” said Senator Baldwin. “I have been sounding the alarm for two years on the need to put in place strong rail safety reforms and today we have taken major action to hold railroad companies accountable and protect Wisconsin’s citizens from the catastrophic consequences of these dangerous derailments.”
Baldwin provisions include:
Transparency: Currently, railroads do not have to provide bridge inspection reports to local officials—despite the obligation of local officials to protect their citizens and ensure the soundness of local infrastructure. Senator Baldwin’s provision would require a railroad to provide local officials a public version of the most recent bridge inspection report.
Real-Time Reporting: Currently, information about hazardous materials being carried through Wisconsin communities are only available to first responders after an incident has occurred. Senator Baldwin’s provision addresses concerns raised by the first responder community who would like real-time access to information about hazmat trains entering their jurisdictions in order to better prepare. Baldwin’s reform requires U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fusion Centers to provide real-time information to state and local first responders before a hazmat train arrives in their jurisdiction.
In addition, the bipartisan compromise includes provisions modeled after Senator Baldwin’s Crude-By-Rail Safety Act, which she introduced in March 2015.
Comprehensive Oil Spill Response Plans: The bipartisan legislation asks DOT provide a plan to implement as soon as possible rules to require railroads to improve their plans for responding to a worst-case oil discharge.
Rail Carrier Liability Study: The bipartisan bill requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to initiate a study on the appropriate levels of insurance for railroads carrying hazardous materials.
The bipartisan Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs, and Safety Evaluation (RESPONSE) Act passed the Senate. The bill, introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), improves training and support for first responders to respond to incidents such as oil train derailments in Wisconsin and across the country.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has been a strong advocate for improving career readiness and Career and Technical Education (CTE) in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Senator Baldwin has introduced three bills this Congress to increase student achievement and help ensure students are prepared for a 21st century Made In Wisconsin economy.
Senator Baldwin was joined by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, in introducing the Career Ready Act of 2015. This legislation would help ensure students are college and career-ready by strengthening school counseling programs and encouraging states to keep track of career readiness factors implemented in school districts.
Senator Baldwin also introduced legislation to help schools, districts, and states transform learning systems by utilizing innovative technology. The Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) Act would support educators in using technology to increase college and career readiness, help school districts build a technology infrastructure to ensure schools take full advantage of what technology has to offer, and increase student learning by infusing technology into education while protecting student privacy and ensuring data security.
In January, Senators Baldwin and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act in order to eliminate low-quality and unnecessary assessments from our nation’s classrooms. The SMART Act effectively targets federal funding to empower states to audit their assessment systems and eliminate poor quality and redundant tests. It also provides for states and local education agencies to improve their use of assessment data, which might include providing more time for educators to design instruction based on test results and speeding the delivery of test data to students and families.
All three bills have received broad support from national and Wisconsin organizations representing educators and education leaders.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement today on President Obama’s announcement that he intends to nominate Allan R. Landon to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System:
“I am encouraged by the White House announcement that President Obama intends to nominate Allan R. Landon, a former community banker, to serve as a Governor of the Federal Reserve System. In April, I wrote to President Obama highlighting the important role that community banks play in our nation’s economy and urged him to nominate a candidate with experience in that field. For too long our nation’s small financial institutions, who serve Main Streets across the country and throughout Wisconsin, have not had a seat at the table.”
An online version of the letter sent to President Obama in April can be found here.
“The Independent Community Bankers of America and the more than 6,500 community banks thank Senator Baldwin for her opposition to the nomination of Antonio Weiss for undersecretary for domestic finance,” ICBA President and CEO Camden R. Fine said. “We are pleased Senator Baldwin agrees with us that the Treasury position requires someone with a broad background in financial services who understands community financial institutions and their important place in our nation’s economy. We appreciate Senator Baldwin’s support of Main Street.”