Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

House's Leadership Change Means Key Agendas Will Change, Too

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

House's Leadership Change Means Key Agendas Will Change, Too

Article excerpt

Incoming chairs are likely to push for cuts that could weaken both funding and policy.

The November midterm elections created a new Republican majority eager to take control of the House of Representatives in January and a changing of the guard on every committee. Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the incoming House Speaker, has said that committee chairmen will have much more control and a great deal more bill- writing authority. Although many, like incoming Education & Labor Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., pledge bipartisanship, the party's promise to enact spending measures unpopular with Democrats will make that difficult.

The Republican takeover of the House has also left education advocates fearing the worst. When lawmakers talk about reductions in nonmilitary discretionary spending, education is often near the top of the list. Among the biggest concerns is the future of the Pell Grant. Advocates worry that funding cutbacks will deprive millions of potential students the opportunity to seek higher education.

"The need to reconcile appropriations and revenue bills with congressional budget targets wiR force across-the-board cuts, which have never really worked well and have been miserable for education because there's always a move to exclude nondiscretionary programs," says Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. "We simply don't have enough money to pay for the nation's commitments without substantial increases in taxes and cuts in what the government provides."

Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., who sits on the appropriations committee, says he is adopting a wait-and-see attitude about the incoming committee chairs and their agenda. Fattah says, "I'm comforted by the fact that Senate Democrats have a very strong commitment to education, so I think there will be some reasonable compromises."

Here is a look at what kind of changes can be expected:


Rep. Paul Ryan (Wisconsin)

"Both education and the budget are important, but it's too soon to say where funding levels are going to go," says Ryan, the committee's presumptive chairman, "We won't get a baseline from the Congressional Budget Office until late January, so I'm really not making comments until I have a budget in front of me."

That said, he will likely be at the head of the charge to roll back government spending to 2008, pre-stimulus levels. According to the GOP's "Pledge to America" unveiled in September, such a plan would save $100 billion in the first year and close to $1 trillion over 10 years. …

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