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

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Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 24, 2005)

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. REGULA. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I agree with the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Keller) that the Pell grant program plays an essential role in helping disadvantaged students pursue a college education.

And for more than 30 years, the Pell grant program has served as the foundation of Federal need-based student aid.

I further applaud my colleague and a member of our committee from Florida (Mr. Keller) for his strong leadership in supporting the Pell grant program, and as Chairman of the Pell Grant Caucus, and for his sharing with us his personal experiences as a former Pell grant recipient.

The gentleman is correct to point out that the Republican Congress has provided unprecedented support for Pell grants. Funding for Pell grants doubled in the last 10 years, and today we are proposing to add more than $1 billion in additional funding. The number of students receiving Pell grants has risen significantly, and today about 5.3 million students are attending college with the help of a Pell grant.

So I want to thank my colleague from Ohio (Mr. Regula), the dean of our delegation, for his leadership as chairman of the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. He has been a strong advocate on behalf of education programs, and it has been a privilege to work with him in support of our priorities.

Given the constraints that the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Regula) is working with, I fully understand. I agree with my colleague from Florida (Mr. Keller) that we should do all we can to increase the maximum award.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman from California's (Mr. Honda) amendment.

The gentleman talks about two distinct and particular points in his amendment. First, schools routinely share students' information with various vendors. And whether they sell that information or share it, there are a lot of different forums. And during the consideration of No Child Left Behind, the gentleman from California (Mr. George Miller) and I worked closely to try to protect students' privacy. And what we developed at the end of the bill was an opportunity for parents to have their children's names opted out of the information that would be sold or shared with outside vendors, thereby giving parents the right to protect their children's privacy.

But a second point, a more important point, is that some schools were sharing this information with private vendors, but would not share it with the U.S. military. And the agreement that we came to on the floor of this House in a very broad bipartisan way was that to the extent that a school sells or shares student data, they must treat military recruiters in a nondiscriminatory way, or, in other words, treat all people who would want access to this data to have access to it in the same way.

Now, if schools do not want to share the data with military recruiters, that is fine. They cannot share the data then with anyone. But to the extent that they want to sell that data to publishers and others who would seek that, they must give the military the right to that information as well.

I think students across America ought to have access to information to the United States military. It has been a wonderful career for tens of millions of Americans, and the fact is that the practice is going on in far too many schools discriminates against the needs of our military.

So I would ask my colleagues to reject the gentleman's amendment. We have dealt with this issue in a comprehensive way in No Child Left Behind, and we did it in a broad bipartisan way.

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AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. VAN HOLLEN

Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, last year Congress took action to shut down these excess subsidies that are paid to lenders through the 9.5 percent floor loans. That led to the Taxpayer-Teacher Protection Act, which was crafted to immediately halt the practice while ensuring that this issue would ultimately and permanently be addressed in the Higher Education Reauthorization Act.

Now that bill, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, is to be before the Committee on Education and the Workforce immediately upon the return of Congress from the July 4 district work period. And we do expect that we will look at this in a comprehensive way.

And while I share some of the concerns of my colleague from Maryland (Mr. Van Hollen), we have got to be very careful as to how we proceed in this area. There are a lot of nonprofit lenders across the country who were the recipients of these 9.5 percent loans; and if we were to adopt the gentleman's amendment, we could cause many of these nonprofit students lenders to be put out of business. And I think the gentleman realizes that we have been going through a very methodical process of trying to make some determination about how to shut these loans down permanently and how to deal with the issue of recycling. I wish it was as clean and easy as saying, we are just not going to do it any more.

But as I have looked at this and I think others have looked at it, it is just not that easy. But as the committee deals with the Higher Education Reauthorization next month in both the subcommittee and full subcommittee, there is no question that this issue will be dealt with in its entirety.

With that, I would ask my colleagues to oppose the gentleman's amendment. I would really like to ask him to withdraw the amendment and allow the regular process, the regular order, to occur in the committee.

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

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Van Hollen) seeks to, as he says, prospectively end the practice of recycling new loans through these 9.5 percent bonds that are out there. But here is the problem: some of these nonprofits student loan lenders around the country have these bonds in place for the next 5, 10, some even 15, years. And if we were to end the practice of recycling new loans through there, we would put those nonprofit lenders literally out of business because those bonds were sold to the public under this 9.5 percent scheme.

Now, I am as disgusted by this scheme as the gentleman from Maryland is, I can tell you; and why this practice went on for as long as it has is really very troubling to me. But having said that, for nonprofit lenders who had gone out and secured bonds with the backing of these 9.5 percent interest rate loans, I think that with the adoption of this amendment we could cause great problems with many of the lenders that are all across the country that help fund student loans for many needy students.

So I would ask my colleagues to oppose this amendment. This is a very dangerous step that could affect the ability of millions of American students to get a student loan to allow them to go to a post-secondary institution. And, secondly, the committee is in fact going to deal with this. The gentleman from Maryland is well aware that the committee is going to deal with this as we reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

Again, I would urge my colleagues to vote "no" on the amendment.

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

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