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Paul’s office also declined comment. But Paul, a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, could be interested in being the Republicans’ point person on the HELP Committee because it is also the prime committee on health-care policy. Regardless of how the jumble of possibilities turns out, lobbyists said one thing is clear. Whoever succeeds Alexander will not have the same expertise and interest in higher education policy as the former president of the University of Tennessee. That could make higher education a lesser priority on a committee dealing with health-care issues amid a pandemic, as well as the potential striking down of the Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court. “As a former public university president, secretary of education and governor, Chairman Alexander brings unique experience and interests in higher ed to his role,” Craig Lindwarm, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ vice president for governmental affairs, said in an interview. “Regardless of who his successor is, it will be an open question whether they are as committed to higher education issues as a committee priority.” As one lobbyist said, “No one has the background that Lamar Alexander had on education. Alexander wakes up with education on his mind.” Alexander's spokesman, though, didn't return inquiries. Where Burr stands on higher education issues is somewhat of a mystery, the lobbyists and policy experts said. “Burr hasn’t been too engaged on higher ed issues, so it could fall somewhere down as a priority,” said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at the left-of-center think additional info tank New America and a former senior policy adviser at the Education Department during the Obama administration. “There are a lot of unknowns with Burr,” Hiler said.