Harder Scores Huge Wins in Best-Ever Education Bill for the Central Valley
Bill Expected to Pass House in Coming Months
WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, secured huge wins in a final comprehensive higher education bill, which passed the committee today. Congress is supposed to pass a comprehensive overhaul of all federal education programs every four years – but has not done so since 2008. Rep. Harder worked to include two original bills he authored in addition to several provisions he wrote or led alongside his Republican colleagues.
“This is the best-ever education bill for the Central Valley. Full stop. It’s tailored to address our most important education needs – it’s going to help us get more doctors in the Valley, improve trades education to expand the middle class, and make sure we help the families of fallen law enforcement officers,” said Rep. Harder. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this across the finish line.”
Stopping Doctor Shortages
The bipartisan Stopping Doctor Shortages Act, which Rep. Harder introduced alongside California Republican Paul Cook last month was included word-for-word in the final education overhaul. The legislation will close a loophole in federal regulations that prevents doctors in California and Texas from qualifying for student loan repayment programs. The California Medical Association (CMA) estimates the bill could bring 10,000 physicians to the state over the next decade.
Improving Career and Trades Education
Provisions similar to three bills Rep. Harder introduced in July as part of a trades and career education package were also included in the final bill.
- Supporting career certificate programs – The final bill includes provisions from Rep. Harder’s START Career Pathways Act which would allow students to get federal support for short-term and job training programs. Currently, students of philosophy can obtain this federal support, but students interested in earning a certificate to work as a maintenance mechanic have no such options.
- Giving students hands-on career education starting in high school – The bill also includes parts of Rep. Harder’s School to Career Pathways Act which supports partnerships between colleges and trade schools, and their high school counterparts. These partnerships allow students to get career-focused education much earlier on.
- Expanding dual-enrollment programs – Rep. Harder’s bipartisan Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act inspired a provision which would expand dual-enrollment programs to better incorporate low-income and minority students. These programs allow students to earn college credits in high school, getting a head start on their careers, at significantly lower costs than the same classes offered by university programs.
Honoring Law Enforcement
After Central Valley hero Corporal Ronil Singh was killed in the line of duty last year, Rep. Harder introduced the Corporal Ronil Singh and Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act. Provisions included from this bill would guarantee that all spouses, as well as children, of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, have guaranteed access to federal scholarships known as Pell Grants.
Other Central Valley Wins
Three other bills Rep. Harder introduced alongside his colleagues were also included in the final version of the College Affordability Act.
- Incentivizing careers in farming – The bipartisan Young Farmer Success Act, which Rep. Harder introduced alongside several of his colleagues, would allow full-time farmers and ranchers to get federal student loan forgives.
- Lower college textbook costs – The bipartisan E-BOOK Act would encourage the use of low-cost or free digital course materials in higher education. Rep. Harder joined colleagues of both parties to introduce the bill in September.
- Making college more transparent – The bipartisan College Transparency Act would guarantee students can access information about graduation and job-placement rates among different universities and college programs they are considering investing in.