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VIDEO: STEM Education, Pell Grants & School Safety Focus of Blunt-Led Hearing on Education Department Budget

June 05, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, today held a hearing on the Department of Education’s FY2019 budget request. In his opening remarks, Blunt underscored the need to continue the federal investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs, and discussed how year-round Pell Grants are enhancing college affordability and completion for students in Missouri and across the country. Blunt also questioned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding school safety and the use of Pell Grants for certifications.

Following are Excerpts From Blunt’s Opening Remarks:

“I agree that we should look at programs that are either inefficient or ineffective and prioritize programs that work the best for students. We have a shared priority, your department and the committee, certainly on STEM education. I’m interested in hearing more about how you think the department can support STEM education, including computer science education and what we can do in schools around the country, and I think you’ll find we’ll be particularly interested in rural schools that may not be where we’d like them to be in that competitive environment. The omnibus included $50 million in dedicated funding for evidence-based STEM education programs. I want to certainly work with you, as our committee does, and the department, to see how we can support and expand that effort. …

“Two years ago, we were able to reinstate, in our appropriating bill, with the cooperation of our authorizers, year-round Pell Grants. I just spent some time in Missouri, at the end of the last college year, talking about this being really the first summer where schools could plan and students could plan for year-round Pell. We think there are about 20,000 more students on campus this summer in Missouri and about a million students nationwide, because they have the potential to continue to make the pattern that’s working, continue to work. You know, if you’re paying your way through college, working your way through college, maybe the first person in your family that’s either attending or trying to graduate from college, having a pattern that works makes a big difference. …

“We looked at what happened with year-round Pell, now we increased the Pell Grant through our committee last year by three percent to $6,095. Your budget is still predicated on a top two semester Pell of $5,920. I think we will obviously continue the other number and look for the authorizing committee, the Chairman and Ranking Member of which, are on either side of me, to see their forward view on Pell Grants and other assistance programs. ...

“Many of the proposals in the budget you suggest eliminate programs. I think some of that can be done, hope we can look at it carefully with you, but I think it's likely that the committee will look at the work we just completed, and the large formula grant programs are not likely to be eliminated, not likely to support the elimination of Impact Aid for federal property, though this administration would be -- not be the first one to suggest that Impact Aid could be looked at in another way. There are some small targeted programs, like Special Olympics and Arts in Education that again, while the size maybe looks like they don't make a lot of impact, it would make a lot of impact if you eliminated them and I think our committee would want to think long and hard before we did that.”

CLICK HERE To Watch Senator Blunt’s Opening Remarks & Questions

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