From: Education Daily
Loan reform bill clears House but could face veto – TEACH grants in jeopardy Despite House passage of a student loan reform bill with a new $375 million teacher quality grant program, the measure could face significant challenges during conference with the Senate version. It also has been threatened with a veto by the White House. H.R. 2669, the College Cost Reduction Act passed Wednesday, would reduce subsidies to college loan lenders by $19 billion and redirect the funds into student financial aid programs. It would raise the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,200 and cut student loan interest rates. The bill’s TEACH grants would also subsidize $4,000 annually in tuition for college students majoring in high-needs fields like math, science and special education who agree to teach in challenging schools for four years. As a budget reconciliation bill, H.R. 2669 contains procedural protections against a filibuster in the Senate. Additionally, if the bill is enacted with the TEACH grants in place, they would become mandatory spending programs not subject to the annual appropriations process. The grants are a priority for House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif, who originally proposed them in 2005 as part of a larger teacher support package. But President Bush and Republican lawmakers object to making the programs mandatory entitlements. White House officials said Tuesday that Bush will veto the bill unless Congress yanks the mandatory language for TEACH and the other proposed grants. They said bill’s savings would go to universities rather than to students entering college in the form of Pell Grant awards. The bill “fails to target aid to the neediest students currently in college and creates new mandatory federal programs and policies that are poorly designed and would have significant long-term costs to the taxpayer,” the veto threat stated. Though the bill cleared one hurdle yesterday, the TEACH grants still could be cut during conference with the Senate. The Senate loan bill does not include the program. Jane West, vice president of government relations for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said her organization has been lobbying senators to retain TEACH during conference. “We have been working very hard on the Senate side,” she said. “I know there have been conversations directly between the leadership in the House and the Senate to retain these grants. I’m very optimistic about it.”

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