The House version of legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act “goes backwards on grant availability, backwards on loan affordability and backwards on academic freedom,” says AFT president Edward J. McElroy. On July 22, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce wrapped up its work on the College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005. The bill moved out of committee on a party line vote of 27-20. During the markup, AFT’s allies on the committee addressed some objectionable aspects of the bill, offering amendments to increase the maximum Pell Grant, lower the interest rate cap on student loans, allow consolidation at fair and reasonable rates, protect students from fraud and abuse at the hands of the for-profit education industry, and strike so-called “academic bill of rights” (ABOR) language threatening the academic freedom of faculty. For the most part, however, Republican leaders knocked back those amendments. Where the AFT prevailed, it did so by working with the NEA and a student aid coalition called Keep Integrity. The bill retains restrictions—albeit watered down—in the form of the 90/10 rule (stipulating that at least 10 percent of schools’ income must come from nonfederal aid) and the definition of what kinds of institutions shall have access to federal education programs outside of the aid programs. A setback came when the American Council on Education and other groups, including the American Association of University Professors, submitted compromise language on ABOR instead of standing with the AFT and NEA in insisting that the language be removed. Right now, the AFT is gearing up for an intensive effort in the next few weeks to influence both the Senate bill and the floor vote in the House.