Republicans and Democrats on the Senate's education meeting were reportedly close to reaching a deal to update the Higher Education Act (HEA) after years of failure before the COVID-19 pandemic put discussions on hold, according to a top Republican aide to the committee, Inside Higher Ed reported.
A few months ago, HEA reauthorization—plans for which included provisions to simplify the application for student aid and for increasing the size of Pell Grants—was a top priority in higher education. Now hopes for a deal and a committee vote have been quashed as attention has turned to the immediate crisis and stimulus packages to help workers and businesses just survive, reported Inside Higher Ed.
The Republican aide said, "It's dishonest to say it's not harder now. Until we get to a stable public safety environment, everything is hold."
However, if negotiations are able to continue, they would likely pick up where they were before the pandemic.
"I felt like we were pretty close to an agreement," the aide said. "I felt pretty close to being able to schedule a markup."
The aide said Republicans were having "really good, productive conversations" with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the committee.
"We were getting dang close, and there's no reason why those conversations can't go on," according to the aide.
Inside Higher Ed