January 6, 2021
Democrats secured control in Congress after winning dual Senate runoff races in Georgia this week. Although the margin of their advantage is slim, it has some progressives hopeful that the majorities, along with the Biden administration, could deliver on postsecondary policies they favor.
However, Democrats’ tenuous reign in Congress means they will need to work across the aisle to pursue significant policy change. And it may doom higher education proposals unpalatable to some moderates and conservatives, such as free college.
Still, they will head education committees in both chambers, giving them more sway, policy experts say. And it only takes a simple majority in the Senate to pass certain spending-related measures; a coronavirus relief bill, which the sector has desperately sought, would qualify.
“Democrats set the tone, they will define the agenda,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government relations for the American Council on Education. “But they won’t be able to guarantee everything happens.”