Student Loans

Members of Congress are rich with student debt
Reauthorization of Higher Education Act could affect repayment, affordability

68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members have student loan debt. (Illustration by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

As lawmakers look to reshape the federal loan process in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a cohort knows firsthand the pain of rising college costs — 68 members, or 13 percent of Congress, reported that either they or their family members are mired in student debt.

Collectively, the 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans have higher education liabilities of $2.5 million, according to recent financial disclosures. The median student loan debt is $15,000, while average debt is $37,000.

Budget plan tries to create new fees, revive rejected ones

Copies of President Donald Trump’s budget for Fiscal Year 2020 run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration is proposing to raise about $60 billion over 10 years through new and expanded fees, including repeat proposals for eight fees rejected by appropriators last year.

The biggest of the bunch, by far, is a plan to raise $31.7 billion over 10 years by boosting the fees housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge to guarantee the mortgage market. The duo has been under federal conservatorship since 2008, when they required $187 billion in bailout funds to stay afloat.

Appropriators scold agency for poor student loan oversight
Aftershocks of inspector general report reach Congress

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., urged student loan servicers and the FSA to remember that people’s livelihoods are at stake. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Education Department has to do a better job of holding accountable the companies that service student loans and don’t always do what’s best for borrowers, House appropriators said Wednesday.

The hearing by the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee comes after the Education Department inspector general issued a report last month that, among other things, said the Federal Student Aid program was inadequately overseeing loan servicers, who violated rules that prevented borrowers from choosing favorable repayment plans or even paying the correct monthly amounts.

Lots of legislation would deal with future shutdowns, but most of it DOA
Republicans and Democrats introduced at least 30 bills in January but most won’t go anywhere

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine introduced multiple bills in January taking aim at government shutdowns. Virginia is home to the most government workers of any state in the country. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Momentum built in Congress last month to address future government shutdowns, with lawmakers from both parties introducing at least 30 bills in January to curb the effects on government workers, create monetary disincentives for lawmakers and administration appointees to let appropriations lapse, or, in some cases, eliminate the government shutdown altogether.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Bill Foster proposed a bill to prohibit House lawmakers from getting their pump on at the Capitol’s member-exclusive gym or grubbing at the Members’ Dining Room, both run by the Architect of the Capitol.

White House to put Medicare cuts on hold during shutdown
Pay-as-you-go law would force cuts if shutdown lingers until Jan. 24

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration won’t order up a round of cuts in federal benefit programs, primarily Medicare, if the partial government shutdown remains in effect later this month, a senior Office of Management and Budget official said.

If the shutdown lingers until Jan. 24, under current law, the OMB would be forced to slice around $839 million from nonexempt programs across the government. That number represents the figure left on the pay-as-you-go “scorecard” for 2018, specifying the net amount added to the fiscal 2019 deficit by laws enacted last year, excluding emergency spending that is exempt from the calculation.

The Gospel of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
La congresista goes to Washington

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., brings a fresh perspective to Washington, Manriquez writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“I never had a problem showing ya tha real me” — Cardi B in “Best Life”

OPINION | A decade ago, my first job in Washington politics was waiting tables at “an establishment bar” on Capitol Hill a short walk from the House side of the Capitol. The bar’s management offered night-shift employees a side hustle killing rats for eight dollars per carcass.

Arizona’s Next Senator Won’t Be Wealthy, Whomever Voters Choose
Both Sinema and McSally rank among the bottom of Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress

The next senator from Arizona doesn’t have much in the bank. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).

Arizona’s first woman Senator won’t have much in the bank, regardless of whom voters choose Tuesday. Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema both rank toward the bottom of Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress index, both lacking the big bucks common among many of their Capitol Hill colleagues.

Both Arizonans had already served the public in some way before running for public office. McSally served decades in the Air Force and Sinema was a social worker and lawyer for a public school district. Neither got rich.

Are Minnesota’s Trump Voters Looking for a Check on Him?
Dan Feehan and Jim Hagedorn have different ideas of what Trump voters want

Jim Hagedorn, the Republican candidate for Minnesota’s 1st District, campaigns in the Applefest parade in La Crescent on Sept. 16. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MANKATO, Minn. — With his portrait framed on the wall, President Donald Trump watches over Jim Hagedorn’s subterranean campaign office here.

Trump’s strong showing in this southern Minnesota district is the reason the open seat is one of Republicans’ few pickup opportunities this year.

CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman Resigns, Blasts Mulvaney
“Consumers no longer have a strong, independent Consumer Bureau on their side”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., nominee to be director of the Office of Management and Budget, is sworn in during his Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 24, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Student Loan Ombudsman Seth Frotman resigned Monday, citing political differences at the agency under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

“After 10 months under your leadership, it has become clear that consumers no longer have a strong, independent Consumer Bureau on their side,” Frotman said in a resignation letter addressed to Mulvaney, who is also the Office of Management and Budget director. Frotman said his resignation is effective Sept. 1.

Opinion: Note to Millennials — What I Wish I Had Known Then About Saving for the Future
Focusing only on the crisis of today worsens the crises of tomorrow

For millennials confronting daunting financial challenges, saving for retirement is not a priority. But focusing only on the problems of today worsens the crises of tomorrow, Edelman and Grumet write. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A retirement crisis is on the way, and the generation most likely to be affected by it is the group that’s paying the least attention. For now.

It should come as no surprise that the youngest and largest generation in the workforce has trouble focusing on retirement. Millennials face unique challenges that we did not encounter at their stage. The vast majority of their generation entered the workforce during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Rising college costs and a tuition funding system increasingly reliant on loans have resulted in the largest student loan debt on record. Financial concerns have pushed out millennials’ timing for buying a home, getting married and having children. That’s why saving for retirement does not make the top of life’s list for this generation.