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Inmates serving time at San Quentin prison learn how to code. Photo: Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

A bipartisan bill ending a ban on prisoners' access to Pell Grants was introduced after several studies came out earlier this year that show higher education can reduce incarceration costs and recidivism, NPR reports.

The big picture: Members of both parties, including 2020 candidates Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker, have shown support for prison reform this year. The Trump administration has stressed financial aid for incarcerated students as a top priority, Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais said on Monday.

Why it matters: Expanding postsecondary education would save $365 million per year in state spending on incarceration, according to a January report from the Vera Institute. Expenditures on prisons in 45 states comes to a grand total of $43 billion, Vera’s 2015 data shows.

Background: Inmates have been banned from applying for Pell Grants since 1994, during the Clinton administration. In 2015, President Obama tested the program again with more than 10,000 inmates across 64 schools, called the Second Chance Pell.

  • The Trump administration will keep the pilot program going until 2020. Lawmakers are now debating whether to repeal the ban in an update to the Higher Education Act.

The other side: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), ranking member on the Education and Labor committee, said she doesn't support a repeal of the ban because there are better alternatives.

"We believe it's work-force development programs, not Pell, that can do the most good for incarcerated Americans, and that's where we should be looking."
— Marty Boughton, press secretary for the Committee on Education and Labor Republicans

Be smart: There aren't a finite number of Pell Grants, so expanding eligibility wouldn't prevent other students from receiving them.

Go deeper: First Step Act offers second chance to ex-con job seekers

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.