WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today avoided an impending shutdown of the nation's airports and road construction.
The measure, passed by a voice vote, extends funding for the Federal Aviation Administration, which had been scheduled to expire at the end of this week, through the end of January 2012 and extends highway and transit funding, which expired at the end of the month, through March 2012.
The FAA was briefly shuttered over the summer due to a disagreement between the House and Senate over several provisions in the bill, including funding the Essential Air Service program which subsidizes commercial flights to rural airports, including three in Minnesota. In a deal reached last last week, the current Essential Air Service program remains intact.
Had the highway bill authorization expired, more than $650 million worth of construction projects in Minnesota employing thousands of workers could have been endangered, according to data from MNDOT. The federal government typically provides about a third of all road construction fudning.
"It's not the end result we wanted," said GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack, who said he would have preferred a longer-term authorization of transportation spending. "But right now I guess this is the best we can do and we reached a good bipartisan agreement."
The lower chamber also overwhelmingly voted 365-54 today to pass the first in a series of education reform bill sponsored by Minnesota Rep. John Kline, who chairs the House Education and Workforce Committee. The bill encourages the construction and expansion of charter schools.
In a statement, Kline called the bill "an important first step" for education reformers that "signals our shared commitment to the reform process."
Kline's committee has approved a series of education bills that are part of the process of reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act, but those measures have lacked bipartisan support and have not been brought to the House floor for a vote.
The bill also includes an amendment sponsored by Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen that allows successful charter schools to receive federal grants three years after the school is established, rather than the previous five year waiting period.
Regarding the HR 2218 : Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act, it is disappointing that Congresswoman Bachman did not participate in the vote.
Last week at The American Principles Project at the “Palmetto Freedom Forum,” Potential Presidentress Bachmann said she would look to get rid of the Department of Education : “Because the Constitution does not specifically enumerate nor does it give to the federal government the role and duty to superintend over education that historically has been held by the parents and by local communities and by state governments“.
It should be noted that Potential Presidentress Bachmann and other parents started the K-12 New Heights Charter School in 1993.
Also, it should be noted that the other Republican canidate that is currently serving in Congress, Ron Paul did vote ... he voted against the legislation.
The legislation increases funding ... according to the Congressional Budget Office, HR 2218 will take the current funding level of $256 million in FY2011 to $300 million starting in FY2012 ... when the country is facing a fiscal crisis and budgets being cut for many programs and funding for disaster rebuilding is being politicized, Congress has opted to expend taxpayer monies on charter schools.
As I recall the Paulsen amendment passed via a voice vote last week, and begs the question : Why didn't Mr. Paulsen talk with Mr. Kline and included this in the legislation at the committee hearing ... don't they talk ? ? ?
There was another amendent that the Republicans would not consider ... offered by John Garamendi (D-CA-10), it would have amended Section 6 of the bill to give the Secretary of Education the authority to prioritize financing to eligible entities that use American-made materials for construction and renovation.
Note : Prioritize not require.
Congressman Garamendi said “This is the American taxpayers’ money. Let’s use it to improve education AND create jobs for our fellow Americans.”
So American taxpayers are seeing our monies go to charter schools and have no guarantee of gaining jobs ...
BAD DEAL ... and as I recall this was cleared by the committee in June and it has taken that long for Mr. Kline to get a floor vote ...
a great example of a Do Nothing Congress.
Charter schools improve education in many ways.
First among these is that through competition with local public schools, the public schools are forced to improve curriculum, teacher quality, faculty/student /parental interaction. Also, the charter schools can choose to offer more substantial "hard" science and math courses by
reducing the "feel good" social indoctrination template prevalent in so many public schools.
Look for the education political wing of teachers and administrators to campaign vigorously against this bill, and the Democrat dominated Senate to ignore it and not even bring it up for debate,