Grothman on Committee’s Higher Education Bill
Over the last three days, Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) has taken part in the Committee on Education and Labor’s markup of H.R. 4674, the so-called College Affordability Act. H.R. 4674 is a large bill that would bring about sweeping changes to the U.S. higher education system. It has received zero Republican cosponsors and key Republican amendments were rejected in committee. Grothman is a member of the Committee on Education and Labor.
Grothman does not support the bill as it contains far too many harmful provisions that do not hold universities accountable and will not help students succeed. The bill will also increase the cost of college, while doing nothing to address student loan debt. Grothman has been a vocal supporter of tackling the student loan debt problem and supports the idea of students being allowed to refinance their loans, just as you can with a mortgage.
Below is Grothman’s statement on the bill from the start of the hearing on Tuesday morning.
Excerpts of Grothman’s Comments
“First of all I’d like to thank the Chair for the history lesson as to when we really got involved in higher education wholesale in the 1960s. And when I look right now at the things that make life so much more difficult for a young couple compared to when, say, my parents raised me, there are two areas that seem to be much more difficult for middle-class families. One, of course, if the cost of health care has gone through the roof and the other is the cost of higher education. Whether you’re a student who wants to go to school or a parent who wants to help your children, things are much more difficult. One has to wonder if it is the federal government involvement in education in the 1960s that has done that.
Secondly, I think so highly of my Chairman that is frustrates me when he gets something wrong, I think we say too often that higher education is the secret to success. There are some degrees that can lead to success and there are many paths that lead to success that don’t lead through higher education. The other weekend I was at home and I talked to a woman whose daughter works at a major factory in my district. She’s doing okay. She didn’t go to college, she started working in a factory right away. According to her, she’s got three friends on the line of that factory who are working with her, but they all went to college first and have a nice, big student debt of $20,000-$40,000. In other words, they could have been working in that factory without going to college at all. It, to me, says we’ve got to begin to hold these universities accountable. I realize, and I don’t mean to seem partisan, I realize the universities are an important constituency for the Democrats, but right now they have too often oversold the value of their product.
I think to have a good higher ed[ucation] bill, we have to hold them a little bit more accountable. I also think we have to do more to make sure people don’t take out these debts in the first place. There was a time where universities could say ‘I am not going to allow you to take out more than $X amount because you don’t need it’. And I would have liked to see us push that sort of bill. I know the universities fight it because the universities don’t want to be held accountable. But, there are so many people you run into that it should have been predictable that they would wind up with a job that is not commensurate with paying off these size of debts.
Two other comments, I know we’re into this idea that if you get into public service we’re going to pay off your loan, I don’t like that because somehow it implies that a public service job is better than a job not in public service. I’ve got a lot of public service jobs in my district, but I’ve got a lot of jobs that aren’t public service. I don’t think we should discriminate against, and you’ve got some of it in there [the bill]. I don’t think we should be discriminating against jobs that much in the private sector.
Finally, I like the fact that you’re trying to get something about allowing people to refinance loans. I don’t know if this bill is going to get out of the Senate, but that is such a valuable thing. I hope we can eventually pass a freestanding bill on that issue, to put pressure on the Senate to take it up, so we can actually accomplish a few things this cycle.”
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is serving his third term representing Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.