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Legislative Update: Veterans’ Training Bill, Appropriations, America COMPETES

Veterans’ Training Bill Passed; Expands Eligibility to Area CTE Centers

Late last week the House passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 by a vote of 409-3, after it was cleared by unanimous consent in the Senate earlier in the week. The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature. This bill will allow veterans to use their benefits at educational institutions that do not award associate or higher degrees, such as area career technical schools, career schools, and apprenticeship programs. This would be a change from the current Post-9/11 GI Bill, which does not allow participants to use funds at a non-degree granting institution. The new eligibility provisions will go into effect on October 1, 2011. This is a tremendous victory for CTE and a recognition of the high quality programs that our area CTE centers offer!

Congress Passes Short-Term Continuing Resolution

The House on Tuesday passed a continuing resolution (CR) by a vote of 193 to 165 that would fund the government and all federal programs at FY10 levels through March 4. The Senate approved the bill earlier on Tuesday by a vote of 79-16. With the shift in power in the House, and the weakened Democratic hold over the Senate, there is sure to be a more partisan fight over spending as expiration of the CR draws near in March. Soon-to-be Speaker of the House John Boehner (Ohio) has already said that he wants to roll back federal spending to 2008 levels.

America COMPETES Act Passed by Congress

The House this week passed the America COMPETES Act by a vote of 228 to 130, after it was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate last week. The bill now heads to President Obama for his signature. The goal of the bill is to improve the competitiveness of the United States by investing in innovation through research and development. There are a variety of provisions in the bill that will impact STEM education, such as the coordination of federal STEM education efforts, grants to increase the number of STEM teachers, and other improvements in STEM education. Because Congress wanted to pass this bill before the current session of Congress ends, the House had little choice but to accept the Senate version of the bill which scales back funding from the original House bill and reauthorizes the bill for three years instead of five.

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