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Public Statements

Disabled Veterans and Other Persons with Disabilities

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I like to thank the Senator from Illinois, Mr. Durbin, for his concerted oversight of the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program. This program is an important aspect of Congress's investment in educational opportunities for DC students. I appreciate Senator Durbin's insight into the management of the program as he brings to our appropriations subcommittee on the District the perspective of the authorizing committee on which he served as well.

As Senator Durbin noted, Congress engaged the Government Accountability Office to conduct a comprehensive review of the Tuition Assistance Grant Program--TAG--in 2004. We understand this report is forthcoming and are eager to review these findings with our colleagues. This unique program was created to fit the unique need that the District of Columbia does not have a public university system similar to states across the country. TAG supports the opportunity for DC students to have choices to further their education in small or large universities around the country. The program has been lauded as a significant tool for increasing college attendance, but I am particularly interested to learn from the GAO the college graduation rates of TAG recipients. This, and answers many other questions, will enable the authorizers and appropriators to continually examine this program for performance.

As a unique program, tailored to the needs of the District, we also must ensure the program is meeting the goals set out by the Congress and the needs of the community. We understand the GAO has found that several management and financial controls are lacking. Because we have limited resources every program must be responsive to the community and operate in an accountable and rigorous manner. I am encouraged by the recent management improvements Mayor Williams has made, but as Senator Durbin noted, there is still work to be done.

I appreciate Senator Durbin raising these important concerns to Chairman Brownback and me. I will work with the other conferees to ensure that funding for the TAG program meets the current need in the community, and that proper controls are in place for strict management of these funds. In addition, I welcome an opportunity for the Committee to examine the TAG program in our hearings next spring. I hope we are able to collaborate with the authorization committee so we may continue to manage and fund this program to generate the best benefit for all DC students attending college.

Senator Durbin, I thank you for bringing these recommendations to our attention.

Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, the pending Departments of Transportation, Treasury, HUD, the Judiciary and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2006, H.R. 3058, as reported by the Senate Committee on Appropriations provides $84.806 billion in budget authority and $141.037 billion in outlays in fiscal year 2006. Of these totals, $18.987 billion in budget authority and $18.973 billion in outlays are for mandatory programs in fiscal year 2006.

The bill provides total discretionary budget authority in fiscal yer 2006 of $65.819 billion. This amount is $5.689 billion more than the President's request, equal to the 302(b) allocations adopted by the Senate and $47 million less than fiscal year 2005 enacted levels. This legislation is also equal to the 302(b) outlay allocation.

For the information of my colleagues, I must note that this legislation contains several provisions that will result in spending in 2007 and subsequent years. I must inform my colleagues that the provisions creating these advance appropriations would be subject to a budget point of order under section 401(b) of the 2006 budget resolution. It is my hope that these problems can be addressed by the bill managers so that we will not have to consider points of order against this bill.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a table displaying the Budget Committee scoring of the bill be inserted in the RECORD.

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