WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight after the House Republican leadership pulled the “School Readiness Act of 2003" (H.R. 2210), which reauthorized the Head Start program, from consideration on the House Floor this week:
“The Republican leadership really had little alternative but to pull this ill-advised legislation from Floor consideration because, had it pressed on, the GOP very likely would have suffered a very embarrassing defeat. Our Whip count showed that House Democrats were united against this bill, and we have every reason to believe that a significant number of Republicans believed this was a deeply flawed bill and were ready to oppose it.
“For 39 years, the Head Start program has successfully provided comprehensive services to millions of children throughout this nation and has made sure that they are ready for school. Democrats, as well as Republicans, have long lauded Head Start, which is one of our most evaluated and successful education programs. However, this bill would have begun to unravel Head Start by creating a new block grant program for states without requiring them to live up to any of the Federal Head Start performance standards.
“I hope the Republican leadership will reconsider its ideological approach and come back with a bipartisan Head Start reauthorization bill that can win the support of both Democrats and Republicans. Furthermore, I hope GOP leaders will finally recognize how outrageously under-funded Head Start is today. Forty percent of the children who are eligible for Head Start – or 600,000 children – do not currently have a desk in the classroom. This is simply wrong, and we have an opportunity to make it right.”