This was a vote on an amendment that would have ensured the U.S. Department of Education has authority to take action to reduce the cost of higher education. The amendment was offered as a “motion to recommit.” A motion to recommit is the minority's opportunity to torpedo or significantly change a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure.
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) offered the motion on Republican legislation that would overturn federal standards for colleges and universities that qualify for federal student aid. The standards were set by the Department of Education as a way to ensure schools that are eligible for federal student aid are meeting minimum requirements for the integrity of their programs.
Rep. Capps’ motion would have forced House leaders to add an amendment to the bill clarifying that it did not prevent in any way the authority of the Secretary of Education to take action to reduce higher education costs.
“Incredibly, this bill limits the Education Secretary's ability to protect students and taxpayers from higher education costs. With more than $200 billion in aid distributed each year, the Secretary must have the tools to lower costs for students and their families and to protect our nation's investment in education,” Rep. Capps said. “The cost of borrowing for a student loan is already too high. Let's not make the problem worse.”
Republicans argued that the Democratic amendment would give too much power to the Department of Education, allowing the agency to create unnecessary rules and regulations.
“My colleagues should all vote against (this motion). We have a situation where our colleagues across the aisle want to take the Secretary of Education and make him a Czar of Education,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said. “We do not need more government rules and regulations. We don't need the federal government picking winners and losers, and we don't need this kind of authority ceded to the Secretary of the Department of Education. The Congress needs to be dealing with these issues.”
The motion to recommit was defeated by a vote of 176-241. Voting “yea” were 176 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 233 Republicans and 8 Democrats. As a result, the House moved to a final vote on Republican legislation that would overturn federal standards for colleges and universities that qualify for federal student aid.