Debt Limit Talks Take Center Stage as House Appropriators Question Cardona on ED’s 2024 Budget Properties
Hugh T. Ferguson
April 19, 2023
Speaking before members of the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Subcommittee on Tuesday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urged lawmakers to support the Department of Education’s (ED) fiscal year 2024 budget request, including an increase in funding for the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) as it continues the implementation of FAFSA simplification.
Not doing so, Cardona argued in his written testimony, “would result in reduced services for students, families, and borrowers in addition to putting the systems that hold sensitive data for over 40 million Americans at risk.”
The president’s budget proposal would boost funding for ED by 13.6%, and includes plans to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $820, provide more funding for FSA, and expand access to free community college. But with the looming debt ceiling, congressional Republicans have floated the need to broadly cut federal spending.
During Tuesday’s hearing, lawmakers questioned Cardona on a wide range of education-related issues. In terms of higher education, members focused on the student loan portfolio, how the debt ceiling could impact ED’s funding level, as well as specific funding levels for a number of higher education programs.
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), chair of the subcommittee, at the outset told Cardona that the president’s budget request was too high.
“I believe a more responsible approach for your budget is called for, especially as painfully high inflation continues to strain American families’ budgets,” Aderholt said.
The chair also took issue with Biden’s “extreme executive overreach” in offering widespread federal student loan forgiveness and the continued extension of the pause on student loan repayment and interest accrual.