Senate Votes to Increase the Debt Limit

On Thursday, December 9, the Senate broke a procedural logjam on the statutory debt ceiling. By a vote of 59-35, the Senate voted on a bill granting a one-time exemption to Senate rules so that a debt ceiling increase can go straight to final passage on a simple majority vote, rather than first having to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle. Congress initially reached a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling by $480 billion in early October that allowed the U.S. government to pay its debts until December 3, 2021. That date changed to December 15 after the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. Thus, Congress must pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling by December 15, 2021, to avoid the U.S. government defaulting on its debt.

Congress Calls on Biden Administration to Extend Pause on Student Loan Repayments

Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) has called for another extension of the pause on student loan repayments. Most student loans have been on pause since March 2020. In a press release, Senator Schumer states, “The student loan payment pause expires in just 57 days, but we are still in the pandemic, and the borrowers were saving an average of $393 a month, which has been critical amid COVID. If we do not extend the pause on payments, then that horrendous interest will pile up at a time when too many are still not financially prepared to shoulder a giant monthly bill. Moreover, with Omicron spreading, the uncertainty with what happens next demands at least one more extension of the student loan payment pause.”

Congresswoman Pressley (D-MA) and Senator Warren (D-MA) joined Senator Schumer in sending a letter urging President Biden to cancel student debt. The three members of Congress write in the letter, “The pause on federal student loan payments, interest, and collections has improved borrowers’ economic security, allowing them to invest in their families, save for emergencies, and pay down other debt. Restarting payments without canceling student debt will undermine these families’ economic progress.”

Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for Federal Student Aid Programs

The Department of Education recently announced in the Federal Register their intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to prepare proposed regulations for Federal Student Aid programs. The new Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility Committee will cover issues including certification procedures for participation in student assistance programs, fiscal responsibility for participating institutions of higher education, gainful employment, and many other issues. The Department of Education is also looking for negotiators to serve on the committee and encourages organizations representing the interests of historically underserved and/or low-income communities to submit their nominations. Nominations to be on the committee as a negotiator should be sent to

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship Program Survey on Postgraduate Employment Outcomes

The Department of Education recently announced in the Federal Register a comment request for the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship Program Survey on Postgraduate Employment Outcomes. The Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship program provides allocations for fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students in modern foreign languages or international studies. The survey is designed to collect information on postgraduate employment, education, and training of students after their fellowship is completed.

Department of Education: Institute of Education Science

In today’s Federal Register, the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science (IES) issued a notice inviting applications for new awards for FY2022 for Research Networks Focused on Critical Problems of Education Policy and Practices and Improving Pandemic Recovery Efforts in Education Agencies. Applications will be available on December 16, 2021. The deadline for the transmission of applications will be March 10, 2022. For more information about IES and its latest activities, please visit its website.