Senate Republican blocks student loan extension

A top Senate Republican blocked an effort to extend a student loan program for needy students on Wednesday, just hours before the program expired. 

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access Bipartisan senators reveal sweeping health care package Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the committee overseeing education policy, objected to a Democratic attempt to extend the Perkins Loan Program without a floor vote. 

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Alexander has sought to consolidate the various student loan programs as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren vows to fight 'tooth and nail' for LGBTQ protections as president This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE (D-Wis.), who sought to extend the program on the Senate floor, sharply criticized Alexander's decision.

"One of the things I hear the most from my constituents is their frustration that Congress isn’t doing enough to make higher education more affordable and accessible," Baldwin said. 

"And yet today, the fact that we just saw one Senator stand up and reject a bipartisan and common-sense measure to do just that is, frankly, a perfect example of why the American people are so upset with Washington."

The House passed an extension of the Perkins program on Monday by voice vote. When the program lapses, colleges would be unable to issue new Perkins loans. Students who got loans before June 30 can still receive aid.

Perkins loans were created for students with exceptional financial need.