Higher Education: House Passes Student Loan Bill With Further Limitations on Drug Warrior "Aid Elimination Penalty"

The infamous Higher Education Act (HEA) anti-drug provision, or "Aid Elimination Penalty," which bars students committing drug offenses from receiving financial aid for specified periods of time, took a step toward further dilution this week when the US House of Representatives Thursday approved H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). In the passed bill is language that restricts the penalty to those convicted of drug sales, not mere drug possession.

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/souder-cspan.jpg
Mark Souder conceding the amendment
The bill will next go to a conference committee, whose job will be to produce a reconciled version of H.R. 3221 and a yet-to-be-passed Senate bill. The final version must then be reapproved by both the House and the Senate. If that final version contains the same or very similar language, it will mark the second significant reduction of the penalty, the decade-old handiwork of arch-drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN). In 2006, the provision was scaled back to include only drug convictions that occurred while students were enrolled in college and receiving financial aid (a change supported by Souder himself).

The House victory came only after Souder attempted and finally gave up a last ditch effort to undo the reform. The Indiana conservative first submitted an amendment to strip out the new language in the Education & Labor committee where the bill originated earlier this year, a vote which he lost. This week, he submitted the amendment as the bill came up for a vote on the House floor, but then withdrew it after Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) suggested compromise language that would limit the provision's effect to felony drug convictions instead of drug sales convictions.

That compromise language came too late to be included in the House floor vote Thursday. It would presumably be offered up during conference committee.

But that wasn't the only reason Souder withdrew his amendment. As he conceded in a House speech Thursday, "I was probably going to lose today."

More than 200,000 students have already lost financial aid under the Souder aid elimination penalty because of drug convictions. Passage of SAFRA, with either the sales conviction language or the felony conviction language, would reduce the pool of students who would potentially be victimized by it. It's not full repeal, but it's another step closer.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Souder amendment to SAFRA

Thanks for providing more details on why Souder withdrew the amendment. We'll see what happens as SAFRA advances.

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It's about the money

1. Loss of student aid limits a young person's chances of attending an expensive, high-rated college and getting a degree which guarantees a high first job salary and promotion prospects. The resulting impoverishment targets those who, if they had acquired the money, might later contribute to pro-cannabis (anti-tobackgo) causes, campaigns, candidates etc.

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H.R. 3221

I live in the 8th district and it is time to let Mark Souder of the in the 3rd district congressman to put away his Hatred of marijuana users and medical marijuana patients. IT's time for compassion for ALL people and let's get back to the constitution.
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That compromise language came

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