Baldwin Moves to Extend Student Loan Program, One Senator Obstructs Action

“A perfect example of why the American people are so upset with Washington.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today went to the Senate floor to save the critical Federal Perkins Loan Program, which is set to expire at midnight tonight. Senator Baldwin took action with a “unanimous consent request” to fund the student loan program before today’s deadline, but one Senator obstructed action, all but guaranteeing the program will lapse.

Over the past few days, Senate Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans, led by Senator Baldwin, have been urging their colleagues to take up and pass a House of Representatives bill that would have extended the program for one year. On Monday, the House passed their measure unanimously. Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) rejected Senator Baldwin’s efforts today.

“I’m extremely disappointed that my effort to extend the Federal Perkins Loan Program was just blocked by my Republican colleague from Tennessee. 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. And yet today, the fact that we just saw one Senator stand up and reject a bipartisan and commonsense measure to do just that is, frankly, a perfect example of why the American people are so upset with Washington,” said Senator Baldwin today after Senator Alexander blocked her efforts.

Since 1958, the Federal Perkins Loan Program has been successfully helping Americans access affordable higher education with low-interest loans for students who cannot borrow or afford more expensive private student loans. In Wisconsin, the program provides more than 20,000 low-income students with more than $41 million in aid.

Last week, Senator Baldwin introduced a bipartisan resolution urging the extension of the program and was joined on the Senate floor yesterday by colleagues from both sides of the aisle as they called on Senate Republicans to join with them in saving the program. During her remarks, Senator Baldwin shared stories of Wisconsin students who have greatly benefitted from the Federal Perkins Loan Program.

WATCH a video of Senator Baldwin’s remarks here.

The Federal Perkins Loan Program provides low-interest loans to students who cannot borrow or afford more expensive private student loans. Colleges originate, service and collect the loans. Through a revolving fund, institutions maintain loans available for future students.

Since the program’s creation, institutions have invested millions of dollars in their own funds in the program. In addition to making higher education accessible for low-income students, the program serves as an incentive for people who wish to go into public service by offering targeted loan cancellations for specific professions in areas of national need such as teaching, nursing, and law enforcement.