House Poised to Block “Gainful Employment”

They’ll have to wait until some time today for the actual vote, and the satisfaction that comes then may be fleeting, because the provision faces almost certain defeat in the Senate and would be unlikely to survive a veto from President Obama if it got through.

But based on last night’s goings-on in the House of Representatives, supporters of for-profit colleges seem destined to enjoy at least a temporary legislative victory made possible by the reshaping of the political landscape in November’s elections and by the sector’s overpowering lobbying campaign.

Thursday evening, on the second full day of House debate over a continuing resolution that would fund the government for the 2011 fiscal year, lawmakers engaged in spirited exchanges regarding the wisdom of an amendment that would stop Education Secretary Arne Duncan from using any of his department’s funds to carry out its proposal to require for-profit colleges and other vocational programs to prove that they prepare their graduates for "gainful employment."

Although a formal vote on the measure was delayed until today — in large part because the next amendment taken up, which would restrict funding for Planned Parenthood, devolved into an intense three-hour debate over abortion — it seemed evident from the contours of the discussion that the gainful employment measure is destined to pass. While the amendment is far from the wholly "bipartisan" legislation that its sponsors suggest, enough Democrats expressed support for the measure that it should win a majority in the Republican-held chamber.

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