It now appears that Democrats will attempt to get health care reform through and into law using reconciliation, the legislative process that streamlines debate and amendments and removes the threat of filibuster. Alyson Klein over at Ed Week thinks reconciliation might be a good way to reform student lending. As Klein explains:
There’s a good chance an important student lending bill that could become part of the broader legislative package. And, as folks who are following this will remember, that student loan bill would provide some major new money for… community colleges (including dual enrollment and early-college high schools).
The bill… , would cause a seismic shift in the student lending world by scrapping the Federal Family Education Loan Program (which relies on subsidized lenders) and allowing all student loans to originate with the Direct Lending program (in which students borrow right from the U.S. Treasury). The change in the student lending program would free up savings, part of which could be used for the health care program, proponents say.
This tactic might be very good for reforming education debt. The student loan bill, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), has now been held up for months behind the slow progress of health care reform. Reconciliation might push it forward.
There are drawbacks to this tactic, however. As Klein puts it, “Republicans… will likely be fired up even more if major student lending legislation is added to the mix.”