WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) assailed the House Republican cuts to education and America’s schools on the House floor today. Breaking promises, Republicans removed needed funding for essential programs such as Title I, No Child Left Behind, health and science research, and job training. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, on January 8, 2002, on a stage in Hamilton, Ohio, President Bush signed the bipartisan “No Child Left Behind Act.” Surrounded by members from both sides of the aisle – including Chairman Boehner and Ranking Member Miller, as well as Senators Kennedy and Gregg – the President recognized that this landmark legislation essentially was a contract with the American people.
“No Child Left Behind Act demanded greater accountability and expectations in our education system, and, in return, it promised educators greater resources to accomplish our shared goals. ‘A fourth principle [of this Act],’ said President Bush, ‘is that we’re going to spend more money, more resources, but they’ll be directed at methods that work.’
“Well, today, my colleagues, the Republican party in this House of Representatives has decided that it will break its contract – the GOP’s promise – with the American people. This Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill is an unflinching betrayal of the No Child Left Behind Act, and children and parents all across this nation. While educators and local school districts have begun implementing the new accountability measures under this act, this bill falls $8 billion short of the promise that was made.
“Our Republican friends undoubtedly will get up on this Floor and say that they’re increasing education funding. But here’s what they won’t say: The funding in this bill, after inflation, is tantamount to a funding freeze. Yes, you can provide $162 billion in estate tax cuts for the wealthiest families in America – a tax cut that will cost an estimated $750 billion in the decade after 2013.
‘But you can’t keep your promise in funding the No Child Left Behind Act? Two months ago, in the conference report on the budget resolution, this Republican majority promised a $3 billion increase for the Department of Education. Today, it would under-fund that commitment by $700 million – the smallest percentage increase in eight years. Two months ago, this Republican majority promised to increase IDEA funding by $2.2 billion. Today, it would provide less than half that promised increase.
“Two months ago, this Republican majority promised to increase Title I funding by $1 billion. Today, it would provide $334 million less than it promised. Furthermore, this bill cuts low-income heating assistance. Even the Bush Administration, in a statement of administration policy issued yesterday, said it was “disappointed” that the LIHEAP funding level is $200 million less than the President asked for, not Democrats.
“In addition, this bill unravels our bipartisan commitment to increase funding for scientific and medical research at the National Institutes of health. It slashes unemployment programs – at a time when the unemployment picture is worse than it has been in a decade. And it fails to meet our commitment to address the nursing shortage. This bill actually contains $7 million less than the President’s request for the nurse scholarship and student loan repayment program.
“Finally, I want to urge my colleagues to support the amendment that will be offered by Mr. Miller and Mr. Obey that would bar the Labor Department from spending money on new regulations that would strip some eight million workers of overtime rights and undermine the forty hour workweek. We can’t wash our hands of the responsibility of leaving children behind. Vote for the Obey amendment, which does what the President says we ought to do. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill.”