Senate Democrats

Bush Targets Low-Income Children Again, Threatens to Veto Key Education Programs

Today the Senate continues debate on the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education spending bill. The measure provides a significant investment in the nation’s children, from their health to their education. Having just come off his veto of the bi-partisan Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, the President has now set his sights on vetoing this bill. As Senator Robert Byrd said, “While the President spends $10 billion every month in Iraq, we have invested a fraction of that figure above his inadequate budget request in key domestic priorities here at home. For too long, our education system and health facilities have been burdened with the Bush Administration’s unfunded mandates and empty promises.”

The Senate Labor-Health and Human Services Bill Provides An Increased Investment in Vital Education Programs.  The measure provides significant investment in key education programs such as Head Start, Title I grants, education grants for individuals with disabilities and a number of higher education initiatives. In total, the measure provides $60.1 billion for the Department of Education’s programs. This amount is an increase of $2.6 billion over last year, and $3.8 billion more than the Bush Administration’s budget request. Below are highlights of the education programs in the bill:

  • HEAD START – The Senate bill provides a $200 million increase for Head Start, the early childhood education program, up 2.9 percent from 2007. Created in 1965 the Head Start Program has helped provide over 15 million young children with the skills to succeed in the classroom and beyond. According to a landmark High/Scope Educational Research Foundation study, investing in pre-school education programs like Head Start can save taxpayers money in the long run. The study found programs like Head Start improve a child’s educational success, increase their adult earnings, reduces criminal activity, and returns nearly $13 to taxpayers for every dollar invested in the program. [Office of Senator Jack Reed Press Release, 6/20/07; Senate Appropriations Committee, 6/21/07]
  • TITLE I GRANTS – The Senate bill provides more than $13.9 billion for Title I grants to local education agencies, an increase of more than $1 billion over the 2007 level, and $500 million for school improvement grants, an increase of $375 million over the 2007 level. Title I education grants are made to local educational agencies, particularly in high-poverty areas, for programs that provide extra academic support to help eligible students. The program serves approximately 18 million students in nearly all school districts and more than half of all public schools, including two-thirds of the nation’s elementary schools. [Senate Appropriations Committee, 6/21/07; Senate Report 110-107 – To accompany S. 1710 6/27/07]
  • INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES – The Senate bill provides $12.3 billion for special education programs authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides assistance to ensure all children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education. This amount is $528 million more than last year, and $845 million more than the President’s budget request. [Senate Appropriations Committee, 6/21/07; Democratic Policy Committee: S. 1710, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2008]
  • HIGHER EDUCATION ASSISTANCE – The Senate bill increases funding for the Pell Grant program, a key higher education assistance program, which provides financial assistance to low- and middle-income undergraduate students and their families to help pay for college or vocational training. The Senate Labor-Health and Human Services bill provides $14.4 billion for Pell grant awards for the 2008/2009 academic year, supporting a maximum Pell grant award of $4,800.  This amount is $826 million more than last year’s level and $1billion more than the Administration’s budget request. [Senate Appropriations Committee, 6/21/07; Democratic Policy Committee: S. 1710, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2008]