COLLEGE ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 29, 2006)
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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my colleague for yielding and congratulate him on his selection as chairman of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, a committee that I used to chair and worked closely with Mr. McKeon over the last 5 years on a variety of issues, including the issue that is being debated on the floor today, and that is the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Forty years ago, Congress established the Higher Education Act to ensure all students, regardless of their financial circumstances, would have the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education.
Today, after 3 years of hard work on the part of the members of the Education and Workforce Committee and its staff, on both sides of the aisle, I believe we have produced a bill that finally lives up to that legacy.
The College Access and Opportunity Act does just what its name suggests. It expands access and provides new opportunities for millions of low- and middle-income students, and by opening the door to a college education, even more Americans will be able to take advantage of the strong economy that has had 30 consecutive months of robust job creation.
Let us take a look at some of the most important provisions in this bill. It provides extra Pell Grant aid for high-achieving first- and second-year students; provides year-round Pell aid for students attending school throughout the year and encourages students to make progress toward completing a degree; reduces redtape for students and graduates; removes barriers for nontraditional students; empowers consumers with more transparency in college costs and accreditation; repeals duplicative and unnecessary programs; establishes an Academic Bill of Rights; and safeguards the privacy of students; promotes merit-based pay for teachers; and demands accountability in Federal college access programs.
Mr. Chairman, a report released last week confirms that Republican pro-growth policies have led us to the best job market in 5 years, and this bill builds on that momentum and helps strengthen American competitiveness to ensure America's students are prepared for the strong challenges of the 21st century.
Mr. Chairman, if I could, there is a member of the committee staff who last month celebrated her 25th anniversary as a member of the committee staff; and Sally Lovejoy has worked on this bill, worked on No Child Left Behind and a variety of education programs throughout her 25 years as a member of our staff. I want to say thank you on behalf of myself, as the former chairman of the committee, and all the Members on both sides of the aisle who have had the chance to work with you.
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