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Legislative Update: Senate Rejects FY 2012 Budget Proposals, House Committee Votes to Cut 43 Education Programs, Bills Introduced

Senate Rejects FY 2012 Budget Proposals

The Senate voted on four separate FY 2012 budget plans yesterday, and each of the plans was rejected. The budget plans set the overall spending caps for Congress and, in most cases, allocate funds to the subcommittees.

  • The House-passed Republican budget plan was rejected in the Senate with a vote of 40-57. The budget would have made widespread cuts to address the debt problem.
  • The budget that President Obama proposed in February was rejected by a vote of 0-97. This was Obama’s original budget and was not based on his more recent April budget plan.
  • Also rejected were two other conservative budget plans: Sen. Toomey’s (PA) budget and Sen. Paul’s (KY) budget.

The budget rejections signal that passing an FY 2012 budget will again be a drawn-out process.

House Committee Votes to Cut 43 Education Programs

The House moved forward with the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) yesterday by voting to cut 43 education programs identified in a bill proposed by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) two weeks ago.

The measure, the first in a series of ESEA bills, would cut many programs that were defunded in the FY 2011 budget, those consolidated or eliminated in Obama’s proposed FY 2012 budget, and those that have not been funded recently.

Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), stated his support, “[The bill] is a starting point that helps us narrow the role of the federal government while making sure that taxpayer dollars can be dedicated to the most efficient K-12 programs.”

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) agreed that some programs should be consolidated, but argued that removing programs completely would cut off valuable resources and harm students.

The measure will be unlikely to gain support from the Democratic Senate, as Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate’s education committee, and other Senators have strongly opposed many of the program cuts.

Encouraging Engineering Education in K-12

Rep. Paul Tonko (NY) introduced H.R. 1951, a bill to award planning and implementation grants to schools to enable them to integrate engineering education into K-12 instruction and curriculum. The legislation would also provide evaluation grants to measure the effectiveness of the programs.

Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act

Sen. Tom Petri (WI) introduced H.R. 1947, the Post 9/11 Troops to Teachers Enhancement Act, to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The legislation would update the Troops to Teachers program to increase the number of schools eligible to participate, and would make more retiring servicemen and women qualified to participate. Since 1993, over 12,000 retired members have brought math, science and foreign language expertise to schools through the program.

Bill to Address Nursing Shortage

Rep. Sensenbrenner (WI) introduced H.R. 1929, a bill to provide relief to the projected nurse shortage. The bill would create a career ladder for nurses, encourage pipelines for nursing education, and encourage the participation of public and private employers and other organizations. The goal is to encourage current healthcare workers to become nurses.

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