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Senator Lankford Issues Statement on Higher Ed Executive Order


Senator James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement this afternoon after President Trump signed an Executive Order to improve transparency and promote free speech in higher education: 

“It’s unfortunate that we need an Executive Order or bill to clarify that free speech needs to be protected on our nation’s college campuses—places that are supposed to inspire thought, creativity, and learning. But that cannot be achieved if diverse voices are silenced. 

“I applaud the President for confronting the growing burden of student debt and protecting our nation’s fundamental principle—freedom of speech—on campus and in the online classroom. Our nation’s public institutions for higher education have an obligation to uphold the First Amendment and encourage students, professors, and administrators to explore new ideas. Congress will have the opportunity to reauthorize the Higher Education Act later this year to address any specific issues that need the support of the law.”

The Executive Order takes steps to reform student loan debt and improve transparency by requiring the Department of Education to provide information to students on the financial risk associated with student loans. The Higher Education Act (HEA) was first signed into law in 1965 and last authorized in 2008. Congress is supposed to reauthorize it every four to five years. The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held its first hearing in the 116th Congress on HEA reform last week and Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stated he hopes his committee will report a proposal to the full Senate before summer. Earlier this week, the Administration released its proposal to reform higher education.  

Lankford is a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which allocates funding for the Department of Education.