COLLEGE COST REDUCTION ACT OF 2007
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Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your great leadership in bringing us to this historic day. I thank all of the other members of the committee for their leadership in making this day possible, for expanding America's middle class, for giving opportunity to America's children, and for making our future brighter.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007.
In 1944, when the GI Bill of Rights became law, our Nation made a decision. They made a decision to invest in the future. It was an investment that transformed the lives of millions of Americans. It transformed America to the benefit of all Americans. Indeed, it built America.
Over the years, the GI Bill offered opportunity and economic security through education to more than 20 million of the brave men and women who wore our Nation's uniform. It has given America hundreds of thousands of engineers, teachers and doctors, and it has given us a model for the value of investing in the education of our people for our country.
Today, with this legislation, we will make the single largest increase in college aid since the GI Bill of Rights revolutionized America. It is an investment for a bright future for our children, and, just as the GI Bill has been, an investment in a bright future for our Nation.
Any economist will tell you that any dollar spent on education is a dollar that makes a big return to our Treasury. In fact, no dollar invested or spent, no tax credit, no financial initiative you can name brings more money to the Treasury than investing in education.
I want to again thank Chairman Miller and the distinguished members of the Education and Labor Committee for their leadership in making sure higher education is affordable and accessible.
In today's competitive job market, a college education often makes all the difference. Americans with college degrees can earn 60 percent more than those with only a high school diploma. So in the interests of individuals, this is very, very important. Indeed, higher education is the single best investment our young people can make in themselves, that families can make in the success of their children, and our country can make in its future strength.
It is important to note why this legislation is very important. Financial barriers will prevent 4 1/2 million high school graduates from attending a 4-year public college over the next decade and prevent another 2 million high school graduates from attending any college at all. Over 6 1/2 million students will not have access to some college or any college at all.
Higher education, as we all know, is the key to achieving the American dream. This legislation has made sure that all who are qualified and determined to have that education will have access to it.
It has been said that cutting interest rates in half will make it possible for more Americans to achieve their potential. This is especially important for strengthening the middle class. Middle-income families in America struggle to educate their children. This interest rate cut is very important for them. By increasing the maximum Pell Grant scholarship by over $500, nearly 6 million students will be given help to afford expanding college costs.
In hearing the debate on the cost, I think that it is important to note that the cost of this bill is the equivalent of 6 weeks in Iraq; 6 weeks in Iraq. Imagine that, for 6 weeks in Iraq, we can expand higher education to all who wish to achieve it in America. That investment has a return to our Treasury. It will grow our economy and prepare us for the future.
This legislation is a very important part of our Innovation Agenda, where we do need to invest in many more scientists, engineers and mathematicians. By giving opportunities to highly qualified teachers in our classrooms for this Innovation Agenda, it provides an essential component for a bright future for our Nation. It will provide up-front tuition for highly qualified teachers who agree to teach in high-needs areas, increase loan forgiveness for those who practice civic responsibility and encourage students to give back to their communities as teachers, librarians, childcare and welfare workers and public sector employees.
Members have talked about this over and over again. The fact is that, again, for the cost of 6 weeks in Iraq, we can ensure the education of our young people across the broad spectrum of America. We can reward those who want to be civically involved as teachers. It is all paid for.
Today, we are not only relieving the debt of America's students, but doing so in a way that not only helps relieve their debt but does not heap mountains of national debt on top of our young people. This legislation keeps our promise to pay as you go with no new deficit spending. Democrats believe that is just as essential as ensuring that American students have the opportunity to attend college.
Mr. Speaker, the College Cost Reduction Act strengthens the future for our students and it strengthens our Nation. I think, again, that this is a historic day, because it is a day that is about the American dream. It is a day about expanding opportunity in our country. It is a day that recognizes that the best dollar that we can spend is a dollar spent on education. It recognizes that education is the key to a brilliant future, not only for the self-fulfillment of our people, but for the success of our country. It is about our self-fulfillment personally. It is about growing our economy. It is about our National security. It is about carrying the banner of our Founders who have made a commitment to future generations.
Thank you, Chairman Miller, and members of the Committee on Education and Labor, for helping us honor that commitment to future generations. I urge our colleagues to support this very important and historic legislation.