Education Secretary Miguel Cardona spent much of Tuesday’s nearly three-hour hearing about his budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 defending administration policies from student loans to protections for transgender athletes.
Many of the House Republicans on the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education wanted to talk about—and criticize—the department’s proposal to prohibit blanket bans on transgender students participating in the sport consistent with their gender identity under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Cardona repeatedly said he was focused on preventing discrimination against students, noting that proposed regulations were a proposal and subject to public comments until May 15.
“While some choose to look at our Title IX proposal as a point of division, I look at it as an opportunity for me to express as a father and as an educator the passion that I have for all students benefiting from those opportunities that our schools provide,” he said. “All means all, and we will not tolerate discrimination.”
The Republicans pressed Cardona to explain how the different student loan policies are fair to American taxpayers who didn’t go to college. They also asked him to weigh in on a potential TikTok ban and plans to resume student loan payments. Some lawmakers did express concern about the proposed budget’s spending increases.
The Biden administration’s budget proposal includes increasing the department’s discretionary budget by nearly 14 percent, raising the maximum annual Pell Grant award by $820 and giving $620 million more to the Office of Student Aid.
Democrats generally used their time to highlight how potential spending cuts would affect the department. Some House Republicans have said they want to return spending to pre-pandemic levels, which could mean a 22 percent cut for the agency.
“The cuts would worsen public education and limit access to higher education at a time when we need to double down,” Cardona said.