PROVIDING FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 609, COLLEGE ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 30, 2006)
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Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the time.
I had concerns about this bill as well. As Republicans, we are not in favor of increasing government but decreasing the amount of restrictions that additional bureaucracy creates, and I saw part of this that created additional bureaucracy by allowing States to start accrediting.
But before I say anything else, there has been a great deal of misinformation about what the Deficit Reduction Act did. Having two children in college right now myself and another about to start next year, I have been particularly sensitive about this issue. I have had bankers and other educators saying, we understood you cut $12 billion in the Deficit Reduction Act for money that was available for students, and that is not right.
What occurred was there was a reduction by about $12 billion of subsidies that were going to banks for making the student loans, but the fact is there was around $9.5 billion increased in the amount available for student loans and grants and funding. So we increased, not decreased, by about $9.5 billion the amount available for students.
So it was a good thing, and we recognize the importance of education, and we are trying to help them. So that addresses that comment from my colleague.
But with regard to the bill, I have grave concerns about it, especially to allow the States to start accrediting. Governments have done enough damage to education in K-12 over the last 30 years. I was very concerned about that, but I appreciate Chairman MCKEON working with me, and I appreciate his staff working with us.
They have agreed to support an amendment which strikes out the provision that allows States to apply to the Federal Government which creates more Federal Government, to allow them to start accrediting, and that provision, under my amendment, will be struck. There will be no additional State agencies accrediting universities and colleges, and I am hopeful that that will be passed with the chairman's support of that.
Also, we share a very strong concern about the increases in college tuition and fees. They have dramatically gone up over the last 30 years. In fact, I was asking, when I went to law school, if it was still $500 a semester for tuition, and they said, yeah, that much an hour now, but anyway, over a 30-year time, things have just gone up dramatically.
In balancing the difficulty of not increasing government, which naturally requires an increasing cost to universities but at the same time requiring some accountability, I think the chairman's bill, if my two provisions are passed, that this is a good bill because it balances those things.
The task force that is created in the top five most abusive colleges in raising tuition over a 3-year period and costs of the college, they will have to set up their own task force to figure out why their institution has gotten so abusive in its costs. So it will be its own people looking at its own institution. It will not set up more bureaucracy. It will not set up more government, and this will push and provide pressure on institutions and have some accountability, even though it is by people in their own community, as the bill sets out, as amended, if my amendment is allowed to pass.
So I applaud the bill if my amendment, those two provisions, pass. I think it will be helpful in controlling costs without increasing bureaucracies in government, and I appreciate very much Mr. Bishop and the chairman and his staff in working with us on this.
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