Despite agreement between Democrats and Republicans, a provision that would make Pell Grants available for short-term programs was ultimately excluded from a United States competitiveness bill passed by the Senate Tuesday.
The amendment to the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act put forth by Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, and Senator Rob Portman, the Republican from Ohio, was a part of a package of over 40 amendments that were expected to be added to the bill, but Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, objected to the entire package in opposition to “big government.”
Referred to as “Workforce Pell,” the amendment would have eliminated federal loan eligibility for short-term career training programs — between eight and 15 weeks — and replace those loans with grant aid. The provision, modeled on the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act, also introduced by Kaine and Portman, would’ve only applied to public nonprofit institutions.
It also would have required institutions to disclose completion and job placement rates to prospective students and demonstrate that those who completed their programs received at least a 20 percent median increase in wages.
A spokesperson for Kaine said that he will continue to work on including the provision in future legislation.