Caroline Simon

House Democrats advance federal student aid overhaul
Bill would expand grants, push back on Trump's for-profit schools agenda

The House Education and Labor Committee on Thursday voted 28-22 to approve a massive overhaul of federal student loans and other higher education programs that they touted as an overdue move to address the costs of higher education. 

The 1,165-page measure earned no Republican support at the end of a markup that began Tuesday. Among numerous other provisions, it would expand Pell Grants, tweak the Federal Work-Study Program, direct more aid to minority-serving institutions, emphasize campus safety and set several new requirements designed to impose tougher standards on for-profit colleges. It would also use federal aid to encourage states to offer tuition-free community college educations. 

House Democrats start work on student aid measure
Republicans argue bill would limit flexibility

The Democratic-led House Education and Labor Committee on Tuesday began debate on a sweeping overhaul of federal student loans and other higher education programs, but without bipartisan support. 

Among numerous other provisions, the 1,165-page bill would expand Pell Grants, tweak the Federal Work-Study Program, direct more aid to minority-serving institutions, emphasize campus safety, and set several new requirements designed to hold institutions — particularly for-profit colleges — accountable.

Partisan divide reaches into views of higher education
After years of similar views, a divergence in the last decade

Once, American colleges and universities enjoyed bipartisan support, and Republicans and Democrats alike believed in the value of higher education.

Today, not so much. And that could be a big issue as Congress considers reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, a version of which House Democrats unveiled Tuesday. 

Some lawmakers question amount of time spent in committees
How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

The House parliamentarian brought the hammer down on the Education and Labor Committee in April, ending a long-standing practice that allowed panel members from both parties to vote on bills in committee on a flexible schedule — a violation of the House ban on proxy voting.

Members say their schedules have become so hectic and compressed that the courtesy, which the committee has extended for years, is needed. But the practice raises a bigger question: How sustainable are members’ often packed and chaotic schedules?

Katie Hill sees herself as bridge-builder between House Democratic leaders and progressive freshmen
California freshman is already a member of party leadership

Some freshman Democrats in the House have made names for themselves by amassing millions of Twitter followers, leading fiery protests or grilling former Trump officials in the committee room.

Katie Hill, a 32-year-old former nonprofit executive who won a longtime Republican district in the suburbs north of Los Angeles last fall, has made hers by stepping up to leadership roles that allow her to bridge the divides, both ideological and generational, in her caucus.

When should mothers run for Congress? Here’s what voters say
Men more like to say women should have children early in their careers

For the first time in history, the slate of candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination includes six women — five of them mothers. The groundbreaking freshman class of the 116th Congress also contains a record number of women, many with young children.

At a time when more mothers are going into politics, a recent Pew study asked Americans about the best time for a female politician to have children during her career.

Are women making Congress more polite?
Lawmakers are less likely to interrupt each other when there are more women on committees

Last November, a record-breaking number of women were elected to the House and Senate, resulting in the most diverse Congress in history: 25 percent of senators and 23 percent of representatives are women.

According to a new study by Pamela Ban, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, the influx of women could make a definitive difference in committee dynamics, a crucial step in the legislative process.

Committee had broken voting rules for years, gets scolding
Lawmakers were allowed to add to tally after voting closed in the House Education and Labor Committee

Updated 10:43 p.m. | The House Education and Labor Committee was forced to change a longtime voting practice after the House parliamentarian said what the panel was doing violated House rules.

Since roughly 2007 — extending to when both Republicans and Democrats controlled the committee — it had allowed members who missed votes to add their names to markup tallies after the votes had concluded, as long as the added votes did not change the outcome.