WASHINGTON — A congresswoman who has received over $68,000 from for-profit educational institutions shocked the House floor this week when she inexplicably asserted that “it is not the role of the Congress to make college affordable and accessible.”
“I was very upset by Representative Foxx’s comments, and surprised by the callousness of her position,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “But no, I don’t think there is any connection between the for-profit education industry’s financial support of her campaign and her political support for them to do whatever they want. Well…maybe there’s a small connection, but I really think you’re reading too much into this.”
Last month, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) introduced the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act (SAFRRA), originally titled the Supporting Corporate-Backed Academic Freedom through Relieving Students of Their Money Act. If passed, SAFRRA would block federal officials from regulating for-profit schools on issues such as tuition, waste, fraud and abuse.
Foxx introduced the bill with House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), who has received $116,000 from for-profit educational institutions in the second quarter of this year alone.
“Our desire to make sure that certain colleges and universities are completely unregulated and unaffordable is based in our belief about what is best for the American people, and has nothing to do with whether we receive funding from these schools,” said Kline from the driver’s seat of his campaign Ferrari.
SAFRRA would also block a proposed Department of Education rule that would require at least 35 percent of a school’s graduates to be actively repaying their loans in order for the school to receive federal funds. According to recent federal analysis, more than 260 U.S. colleges and universities have higher loan default rates than graduation rates.
Although House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that Foxx’s comments comparing Department of Education regulations to totalitarianism were “a little extreme, even for me,” he still did not think that there was any significant link between the financial support that Foxx has received from for-profit schools and her support of their right to charge students tuition rates that they cannot ever hope to pay off, especially with an online degree from the University of Phoenix.
But when asked whether there was any connection between her political alliances and her campaign finances, Foxx herself was surprisingly candid.
“Look, I need to make a living,” she said. “And if that means that college grads can’t, well…”