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Education Department spokesman Jim Bradshaw says it’s a “valuable tool” for ensuring a fair opportunity for all students.

SENATE

Lawmaker takes for-profit universities to task

Sen. Tom Harkin continued his mission to regulate for-profit colleges on Thursday afternoon, zeroing in on how the industry aggressively recruits veterans.

The Iowa Democrat and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee called a for-profit roundtable discussion, which included Holly Petraeus, head of the Treasury Department’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and wife of incoming CIA chief David H. Petraeus.

“Military folks, at this point, are seen as a dollar sign in a uniform” to for-profit colleges, Mrs. Petraeus said.

Senate Democrats are weighing adjustments to the “90-10 rule,” which currently limits how much taxpayer money — Pell Grants or federal loans — for-profits can get. Under the rule, at least 10 percent of for-profits’ revenue must come from sources other than federal money. The rule is meant to discourage institutions from targeting the disabled, very low-income students or others who are unlikely to complete college, simply for the sake of pocketing government money.

The average student must come up with 10 percent of his or her tuition from other sources like private loans, but military veterans are the exception and, under the GI Bill, are not subject to the 90-10 rule. Critics believe for-profits recruit veterans, pocket the money and then offer substandard education, short-changing both the student and the taxpayer.

“It really makes my blood boil, I must say,” said Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat

No Republican members of the HELP Committee attended Thursday’s roundtable.

HOUSE

Panel backs ban on abortion funds

A House panel has endorsed a ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information.

The effort is an attempt to reverse a policy President Obama put in place within days of his inauguration.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday rejected a Democratic effort to strike the provision from a sweeping foreign aid bill. The vote was 25-17.

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