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Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 23, 2005)

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AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. BRADLEY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to begin by thanking the graciousness of the chairman of the subcommittee, as well as the chairman of the full committee, and the staff who have worked with us today to try and find an acceptable offset so that we can increase the amount of dollars in special education funding in this appropriations bill.

Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement, and so I am proceeding with this amendment to increase appropriated dollars in this bill by $50 million and to take $25 million from OSHA, as well as $25 million from the Department of Education, both from the administrative accounts, in both of those Departments, to fund this additional request for special education.

Mr. Chairman, as you know, and as the chairman of the subcommittee and the chairman of the full committee know, we have made tremendous progress in funding our commitment to special education over the years. Yet we are falling short.

Since 1976, we have increased the percentage of special education from about 7 percent to now approximately 20 percent. But having said that, and having talked about the progress that we have made, when we first passed the Individuals with Education Disability Act in 1975, the Federal Government committed to fund 40 percent of the cost of special education. Today, though we have made significant progress, as I said, going from 7 percent to 20 percent, we are still 20 percent short.

Since I have been a Member of Congress, we have also appropriated in each budget that I have voted for, and the corresponding appropriations bills, nearly $1 billion more for special education in 2003 and in 2004. And in the 2005 budget this year, we budgeted $500 million, which I believe during tight budget times was an appropriate figure.

Unfortunately, in the appropriations process, that figure of $500 million was cut to $150 million. My amendment today, if accepted, would restore $50 million of that funding and increase the special ed funding.

Now, as I suspect most of my colleagues find when they do town hall meetings, as I do, that a constant question arises, When will the Federal Government fully fund its commitment to special education?

This is a question that I answer repeatedly in my home State of New Hampshire. As people struggle with the high cost of property taxes and all of the mandates that are put upon them both by the Federal Government and by State governments, they ask me when will the Federal Government fulfill its commitment to fully funding special education.

Well, I realize this amendment is a modest amendment, adding $50 million to the appropriated level for special education; nevertheless, it is important to continue to seek to do everything that we can to maintain our commitment to special education funding.

Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time to close on this amendment.

With all due respect to the chairman of the subcommittee, who I know has worked very hard over the years to increase our commitment to special education, I thank him for that and fully respect him for that. And I also understand the difficulty of the choices that we have to make.

Nevertheless, my amendment will help us, in some small but significant way, keep the commitment that the Federal Government made in 1975 when it passed the IDEA law, keep the commitment to local taxpayers, to State-funded and local-funded education efforts that we mandate right here in Washington. It will help us keep that commitment, and I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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