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Fresh Start Educational Attainment Act

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Posted (edited)

In the Senate

 

Mr.Storm and Mr.Zamora (Mr.Nikolao for themselves, Mr.Savage and for Mr.Gonzalez) introduced

 

A BILL

To amend Subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965  to end indefinite denial of student access to financial aid if convicted of a drug related crime.

  

 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 

  

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Fresh Start Educational Attainment Act"

  

SECTON 2. REMOVING INDEFINITE PROHIBITION ON STUDENT AID.

Paragraph (1) of subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(r)) is amended to read:

"(1) In general

"A student who is convicted of any offense under any Federal or State law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance for conduct that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving any grant or subsidized loans under this subchapter shall not be eligible to receive any grant or subsidized loans under this subchapter from the date of that conviction for the period of time specified in the following table:

"If convicted of an offense involving:

The possession of a controlled substance:                      Ineligibility period is  

First offense                                                                    1 year.

Second offense                                                               2 years.

Third and subsequent offenses                                       Indefinite

The sale of a controlled substance:                                Ineligibility period is:

 First offense                                                                   2 years.

Second offense                                                                3 years.

Third and subsequent offenses                                      Indefinite

 

 

SECTION 4. FRESH START.

Students whose aid eligibility has been restricted by Subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(r)) shall have their aid eligibility reinstated according to the revised table provided in Section 2 of this act.  

  

PLAIN ENGLISH SUMMARY

Subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(r)) is amended to eliminate indefinite prohibitions on receiving federal financial aid for substance crimes. Provides for reinstatement of aid eligibility.

Edited by Storm
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*raps gavel*

 

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is called to order for the purpose of debating the Fresh Start Educational Act.

 

Debate shall last for 72-hours, followed by a 24-hour vote.

 

*raps gavel*

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Debate on this legislation will now begin. The debate will last till cloture is invoked.

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Posted (edited)

UC has been recognized. 24 hours to object.

Edited by Storm

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Mr. President,

 

I object to unanimous consent.

 

I yield.

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Mr.President,

 

I ask what is the Gentlemen from North Dakota objection to this bill is.

 

I Yield

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Mr. President,

 

As a youth in rural North Dakota, I learned the values of hard work and obedience to my parents, the Lord, and the law. Sometimes we learned that the hard way but we definitely learned. We as a community maintained a stable and functioning society because we established rules and social norms that allowed for such a society to function just as communities do across the country. Breaking the law or disobedience ended in punishment as it rightfully should. If we had allowed kids in their youth to do as they please, there would be no order in society. 

 

I am a believer in personal responsibility, as I assume we all are, and such an action as to use illegal substances while receiving financial aid flys directly in the face of that integral pillar within our society. To give these students a “fresh start” would throw personal responsibility out the window completely. For the federal government to endorse the idea that such transgressions can be rectified would, in my opinion, be unwise.

 

We must hold these students accountable for their actions and the current policy achieves that goal. Each individual is accountable for their own actions and this proposed policy change removes that accountability. The policy in its current form allows for a “three strike” system where eligibility becomes indefinite after a third substance possession conviction. This includes the ability to engage in rehabilitative programs that can shorten the length of ineligibility. Stories of students losing their financial aid indefinitely come from those that lack the personal responsibility we expect from members of society. To reward them with chance after chance would be foolish.

 

Let’s not forget that such charges only affect federal financial assistance and not state aid or regional scholarships as they fall under a different perview. This policy change merely tells abusers of illegal substances that their government is fine giving them chance after chance to maybe one day get their act together. Call me old fashioned but I cannot in good conscious support a bill of that nature.

 

I yield.

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Mr.President,

 

I hear the words of my colleague from North Dakota but I must simply disagree. These children in our nations most urban and rural communities became victims of a social war that they did not ask for. The over-policing of communities of color, the disproportionate sentencing of minorities, and school to prison pipeline which prevents children who were convicted of drug offenses from achieving their full potential but instead to rot away in jail and in our society for a decision they made as children. This type of system is not only just corrupt but it is one that has stripped the liberties and lives of many Americans.

 

I will also reject the statement from the Gentlemen of North Dakota that these children are not "hard working". That statement is not only insensitive but continues upon a legacy of racist and prejudice policies that condemn Americans of color as lazy, undeserving and deserving of prison. I call upon my colleagues to condemn such statements and such thinking.

 

I immediately move for cloture, so that we may fix decades of damage to our nations most vulnerable and finally begin to come to terms and fix our criminal justice system.

 

I Yield

 

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Mr. President,

 

To insinuate that I am being racially insensitive is a ridiculous accusation from the Senator from New York. There is a clear breakdown in personal responsibility if a student on financial aid is receiving multiple substance-related charges and to deny that would be a dis-attachment from reality. Students on financial aid must be held to a high standard and the current policy achieves that desired goal. Giving students chance after chance would be fool-hearted. The availability of rehabilitative programs that can increase eligibility give those who wish to quit their unhealthy activities the chance they need to move forward. A lack of indefinite punishment allows the cycle of substance abuse to continue. Our government cannot endorse allowing such a cycle to continue now or ever. 

 

I yield.

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Mr.President,

 

We look down upon dictators and tyrants who prevent their citizens from acquiring an education. Whom are we as a body of governance to say those people are bad but yet do the same thing in our nation? Education is not a privilege for what some people presume as "good people", education is a  right that all people should be entitled to.

 

The Gentlemen from North Dakota speaks about the lack of responsibility but for decades rich white people from suburbs were getting lesser and easier sentences compared to people of color even though they were virtually using the same drug.

 

A punishment should never deprive a human being of the essentials needed to survive. In our nation today, a college education is a much-needed resource to build a family and support oneself. I will also add it has been statistically proven that people who are less educated and who lack access to education are more prone to commit crimes. This bill will not only correct this problem, but it helps us shape our future generation and effectively give them the help that is much needed.

 

I Yield

 

 

 

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Mr. President pro tempore,

 

I rise today in support of the Fresh Start Educational Attainment Act, which I am proud to have worked across the aisle to achieve compromise. Those of us who remember last Congress, the Senator from New York and I disagreed on the best way to move forward, but today we have reached a compromise that will address this issue without undermining the rule of law or unjustly penalizing those who have succumbed to the illness of addiction.

 

Mr. President, neither you nor I want to see our youth addicted, and I know that I firmly stand behind rehabilitative programs to turn people away from drug use and substance abuse. But education is an important step to raising individuals out of the cycle of drug use. This bill, I am convinced, will help our students who are abusers of controlled substances to develop the skills needed to turn away from their addiction.

 

With that, I am proud to second the motion for cloture.

 

I yield.

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Mr.President,

 

In an attempt to gather ideas to improve this bill during this debate period, I will rescind my motion for cloture.

 

I Yield

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Mr.President,

 

I offer this following amendment I move to amend Section to state 

 

 

Quote

 

SECTON 2. REMOVING INDEFINITE PROHIBITION ON STUDENT AID.

Paragraph (1) of subsection (r) of section 484 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(r)) is amended to read:

"(1) In general

"A student who is convicted of any offense under any Federal or State law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance for conduct that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving any grant or subsidized loans under this subchapter shall not be eligible to receive any grant or subsidized loans under this subchapter from the date of that conviction for the period of time specified in the following table:

"If convicted of an offense involving:

The possession of a controlled substance:                      Ineligibility period is  

First offense                                                                    1 year.

Second offense                                                               2 years.

Third and subsequent offenses                                       Indefinite

The sale of a controlled substance:                                Ineligibility period is:

 First offense                                                                   2 years.

Second offense                                                                3 years.

Third and subsequent offenses                                      Indefinite

 

 

With this, we will ensure the accountability that the Gentlemen from North Dakota is concerned about  but also lay a path to ensure that every American can get an education and immediately become working members of our nation.

 

I Yield

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Mr. President, 

 

I rise to second that amendment. 

 

I Yield. 

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Mr. President,

 

As somebody who voted against cloture for this legislation because I thought it was an honorable idea that went too far and lacked accountability, while still somewhat imperfect I would support the legislation with the proposed amendment and applaud the sponsor for the willingness to hear out concerns regarding the implications of this legislation in its original form.

 

I yield. 

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Mr. President, 

 

The criminal justice system in this country is a joke. We are sending children to prison only to be exploited for their labor. Yes, people who commit crimes should be punished, but we would do the American people a favor if we started focusing our attention towards rehabilitation, and I cannot see a better form of rehabilitation than giving people access to an education. I rise in support of this bill. It is not perfect, but it will take us a step closer to a criminal justice system that actually tackles the problem of crime on this country.

 

I yield

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