What: All Issues : Education, Humanities, & the Arts : General Education Funding : (H.R. 2187) On passage of the bill authorizing $6.4 billion in new grants and low-interest loans to local educational agencies for the construction, repair, modernization and “greening” of public educational facilities
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(H.R. 2187) On passage of the bill authorizing $6.4 billion in new grants and low-interest loans to local educational agencies for the construction, repair, modernization and “greening” of public educational facilities
house Roll Call 259     May 14, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This was a vote on passage of H.R. 2187, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which authorized $6.4 billion in new grants and low-interest loans to local educational agencies for the construction, repair, modernization and “greening” of public educational facilities. Rep. Polis (D-CO), a supporter of the legislation, had argued in favor of it by saying that “an excellent education . . . (can) only be achieved . . . in safe schools and productive learning environments equipped with the resources required to succeed. Anything else is increasingly unacceptable in the 21st century.  Unfortunately, as a Nation, we are unable to meet this basic standard. According to the American Federation of Teachers, our schools fall short of being in good condition by an estimated $255 billion. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave our Nation's schools a D on the national infrastructure report card.” 

Polis also argued that: (B)y making schools more energy efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels, the bill will also help reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming, as well as cut energy costs, saving operational money for schools and local governments.

The majority of Republicans expressed concern about the new program because they believed that school construction should remain a state and local responsibility and, as Rep. Castle (R-DE) said: “(T)he Federal Government has assigned roles dealing with certain things that we already do that we are not really living up to as fully as we should . . . if we start this program, you are going to see an increase in requests for school construction that is going to blow everything out of the water. . . I can't imagine anyone who would be opposed to it conceptually. But can we afford to add another education program that's going to be underfunded? And that says nothing about the overall deficit of our country.”

Rep. Thompson (R-PA) had attempted during consideration of the bill to have language added , which would have prevented it from becoming effective until the deficit was below $500 billion, claiming that the government could not afford to move into this new area. Thompson had made the point that “our deficit has never exceeded $500 billion, that is until this year in which we're facing a deficit of $1.84 trillion. . . .” 

The bill passed by a vote of 275-155. Two hundred and fifty-one Democrats and twenty-four Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and fifty-four Republicans and one Democrat voted “nay”. As a result, the House passed the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act.

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