Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon of California will give up his post as the top Republican on the House education committee to become the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Congress Daily reports.
His departure will create a vacancy at the top of the education committee at a time when the panel is considering legislation to overhaul the federal student-loan programs and make Pell Grants an entitlement.
While a successor for the education post has not been picked, the next in line for the job, in terms of seniority, is Rep. Thomas E. Petri of Wisconsin, an avid supporter of direct lending. Mr. Petri has been a member of the committee since 1979 and helped create the direct-loan program in the 1990s.
If Mr. Petri replaces Mr. McKeon, the committee’s Democrats could face less opposition from Republicans to President Obama’s proposal to eliminate the guaranteed-student-loan program. Congress has until mid-October to decide whether to abolish the bank-based program or make less drastic changes in student lending.