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College Cost Reduction Act Of 2007

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COLLEGE COST REDUCTION ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - July 11, 2007)

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from California for the work that he has done on this. I also want to commend him for his appreciation for how we approach education and how we approach access to education in this country. His work in the committee has not gone unnoticed, and we do appreciate that commitment.

I do rise today to support the McKeon substitute that we have before us, and I think that it addresses some of the problems that so many Members on both sides of the aisle have problems with in the underlying legislation. You cannot deny that there are nine new entitlement programs that are contained in the underlying legislation, and quite frankly, we have heard from so many people who have expressed concern over this.

As we are at a time when people talk about the need to reduce the size of the Federal Government, to reduce the bureaucracy, to reduce the number of programs, here comes a piece of legislation, and lo and behold, you're going to have nine new programs.

Now, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, there are so many that say, why would you do this? Why would you not do an assessment of the needs and then put the money where the needs are?

And Mr. McKeon has done that, as he has addressed the Pell Grants and spending the funding, increasing the Pell Grants, which address the access component that is so important to our students.

Another component that is in there that I think many of the Members would be interested in is the changes that it makes in providing funds for year-round Pell Grants, there again answering a question and solving a problem that we hear from our constituents and the type Pell Grant program that they want, the access that they want, being certain that we're going to help those students who wish to pursue their education not only in the fall, not only in the spring, but the summer as well. We know that this is very important as people look at new type schedules, as they look at moving on through the educational process and getting into the workforce.

We know that we have different areas where we need employment and being able to finish a little bit earlier. Not everybody wants to go on a 4- or 5-year program. There are some people that want to go through in a 3-year program, 3 1/2 -year program, and so this addresses a societal change and a need that is there that allows that flexibility that students want. And that is where we need to place the emphasis, allowing people to take control, individuals to take control and make decisions that are going to suit them and not having the bureaucracy make those for them, which all too often, when we create nine new entitlement programs, with nine new bureaucracies, we don't see fast decision-making on something. We see this go into that black hole or the terminal put on hold that so many of our constituents continue to complain about every day.

I would also like to commend to this body and thank Mr. McKeon for the work that puts the emphasis on our military by providing for them extended deferment options for our returning soldiers who may need extra time to get settled and to return to careers and be able to begin repaying any outstanding student loans. Certainly in my district, the Seventh District of Tennessee, this is something that has been recognized as a need. We have so many that have served so honorably with the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, and this is a provision that is important. It is one that is recognized by us, by the minority, by those of us on this side of the aisle, and it's one that we do express our thanks for being included.

The McKeon amendment, the substitute is the right move. It is the right balance. It puts the funding where it is needed by increasing those Pell Grants, and I do rise in support of it, and I thank the gentleman for his work.

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