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 AlexanderGOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Trump signs executive order on campus free speech 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 BaldwinOn The Money: Trump issues emergency order grounding Boeing 737 Max jets | Senate talks over emergency resolution collapse | Progressives seek defense freeze in budget talks Dems offer bill to end tax break for investment-fund managers Bipartisan think tank to honor lawmakers who offer 'a positive tenor' 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.