Ranking Member's Press


On Eve of Senate Vote, Harkin Urges Support for Bill to Allow Borrowers to Refinance Student Loans

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of tomorrow's Senate vote on the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a bill that would allow borrowers with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers and achieve much-needed savings for families across the country. Harkin also announced that he would introduce … Continue Reading


Senators Urge Department of Transportation to Finally Ban E-Cigarettes on Airplanes

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today in urging the Department of Transportation (DOT) to finally prohibit the use of e-cigarettes on airplanes. DOT first proposed a ban more than two years ago, but has delayed issuing a final regulation that would bar e-cig… Continue Reading


Harkin Welcomes Action from President Obama to Help Students Manage Federal Loan Debt

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today welcoming an Executive Order from President Obama that will allow an additional five million borrowers with Federal Direct student loans to cap their monthly payments at just 10 percent of their income, according to the White House. "The average college student today is saddled with more than $29,000 in federal student loan debt. That… Continue Reading


Harkin Statement on Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group Recommendations

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today released the following statement in response to a report released by a federal, interagency Working Group tasked with making recommendations to improve chemical facility safety and security. The Working Group was formed as a result of an Executive Order from President Obama. "As the West, Texas disaster reminded us, keeping our nation's communities, workers, and firs… Continue Reading


Harkin, Hagan Work to Protect Servicemembers & Veterans in Pursuit of Higher Education

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) today introduced new legislation to protect servicemembers and veterans in response to the Justice Department's recent settlement with Sallie Mae, a student lending corporation that violated federal law and charged servicemembers excessive interest rates on their student loans. The Servicemember Higher Education Protection Act makes a number of updates and improvements to current law to better serve military families, including pro… Continue Reading


Harkin, Chair of HELP Committee, Applauds Senate Approval of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to Serve as Next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded the confirmation of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 78 to 17. The HELP Committee held the Senate's first hearing for Burwell on May 8. "Through a dynamic career in both public service and private sector leadership, Sylvia Burwell has proven herself as an… Continue Reading


Praise for Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Improve America’s Workforce Development System

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Since a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators announced a deal to improve the nation's workforce development system through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a broad array of labor, business, and workforce development leaders, as well as governors and mayors from around the country, has expressed support for the proposal. Read a summary of the bill here. Excerpts from letters of support sent to the bipartisan, bicameral group are immediately below, and … Continue Reading


Senators Call on State Governors to Expand Medicaid Under Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C.- U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today joined a group of 20 senators in calling on state governors to expand Medicaid in their states under the Affordable Care Act. In a letter to the 18 governors who have yet to undertake the expansion, the senators urged the governors to put aside their political differences and expand the Medicaid program. The letter asserts that by refusing to do so these governors … Continue Reading


Harkin: Senate Should Act on Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Following Supreme Court Decision in Bond

WASHINGTON, D.C.-The Senate should act to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) now that the Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Bond v. United States, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said today. Harkin is the Senate author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and has helped lead the fight in the Senate to ratify the CRPD. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "The Supreme Court's ruling in Bond has rem… Continue Reading


Bicameral Group of Democratic Lawmakers Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Risky Banking Practices on College Campuses

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Lawmakers in both the Senate and House today introduced legislation to protect students from unfair banking practices involving campus-sponsored financial products and to preserve the integrity of federal student aid programs. These bills remove conflicts of interest and end kickbacks between financial institutions and schools, ensure that students are in control of their own financial aid and banking products, and provide much-needed transparency over campus-sponsored financia… Continue Reading


Bipartisan, Bicameral Group Announces Deal to Improve American Workforce Development System

After Months of Negotiations, Leaders from House, Senate Introduce "Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act" Current Federal Workforce Laws, Written in 1998, Have Been Overdue for Reauthorization for More Than Ten Years WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers announced that they have reached a deal to improve the nation's workforce development system through new legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The bill, which will now be considere… Continue Reading


Sens. Harkin, Franken, Roberts, Barrasso Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Rural Health Care

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a bipartisan bill to help rural communities address the challenges they face when it comes to providing quality health care. The Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act (R-HoPE) would support the efforts of rural health care systems to provide innovative, sustainable health care solutions for patients in rural America. Specifically, the legislation would e… Continue Reading


Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) At the HELP Committee Roundtable: “Economic Security of Working Women: A Roundtable Discussion”

"America's working women have made incredible strides in the workplace. And as women succeed, America succeeds and our economy succeeds. But huge challenges remain. Too many working women are stuck in poor-quality, low-wage jobs, living in or near poverty, struggling to make ends meet. "In addition, even as women have entered the workforce, they are still usually the primary caregivers for children and elders. Yet our workplaces have not kept up with the changing times, and most women do n… Continue Reading


Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) At the HELP Committee Hearing: “Progress and Challenges: The State of Tobacco Use and Regulation in the U.S.”

"We have convened this hearing to examine the state of tobacco use and regulation in the United States - both the extraordinary public health efforts that have driven down tobacco use and the enormous challenges that remain. "Our nation has made remarkable progress in the 50 years since the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health. In that time, the smoking rate has been cut by more than half - from 42 percent to 18 percent. And we've learned what works: from smoke-free workplaces … Continue Reading


Senators Harkin, Durbin, Murphy, Schatz, Warren, and Carper Call on Education Dept. to Strengthen Protections for Students at Career Education Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Tom Carper (D-DE) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (ED) urging them to put in place stronger protections for students in career education programs-particularly those at for-profit colleges-who often take on significant debt and are frequently left with meager job prospects. The Higher Education Act requires all career education programs … Continue Reading


Harkin, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to End Federal Tax Subsidy for Unhealthy Food, Beverage Marketing to Children

WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today introduced the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act of 2014, legislation that would end the federal tax subsidy for unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children. The legislation requires that money generated by the elimination of the tax subsidy be used to fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and … Continue Reading


Harkin Leads HELP Committee Approval of Bill to Expand Access to High-Quality Early Learning Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, issued the following statement after the HELP Committee approved the Strong Start for America's Children Act, legislation he introduced in November to expand access to high-quality early learning programs. Harkin's bill focuses on three key goals: boosting funding for high-quality preschool programs serving low- and moderate-income families; increasing the quality o… Continue Reading


Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) At the HELP Committee Markup of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act

"Today, we will mark up the Strong Start for America's Children Act. I introduced this bill last November along with Congressmen George Miller and Richard Hanna, and it has received broad support from more than a quarter of the members of the Senate and the House combined. The bill enjoys bipartisan support in the House but, unfortunately, is supported on only one side of the aisle here in the Senate. This is a disappointment, but it must not keep this Committee from acting on an issue of urge… Continue Reading


Harkin Statement on Servicemember Loan Abuses by Sallie Mae

WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement after today's law enforcement announcement against Sallie Mae for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. "As Chairman of the Senate's education committee, I am dismayed to learn of the problems and practices identified in the settlement reached today between the Department of Justice and Sallie Mae. Our servicemembers, who… Continue Reading


Senators Call on FDA to Protect Users and Bystanders From Release of Harmful Chemicals from E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a letter sent today to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to call on the agency to recognize recent studies that show potential health impacts of "vapor" or "plume" on e-cigarette users and secondhand inhalers. Two new studies describe the harmful chemicals, including for… Continue Reading

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