Congress will meet to vote on proposed education bill

by Erin Ghere

As the presidential saga stretches into its fifth week, Congress will head back to Washington, D.C., Monday to vote on, among other things, a $40 billion education bill.
The bill includes proposed increases in Pell Grant scholarships, as well as tutoring and counseling to prepare low-income students for higher education.
Because a number of the returning senators and representatives were voted out of office Nov. 7, the lame-duck session could prove interesting.
Among those voted out is DFL Rep. David Minge, who represents Minnesota’s 2nd District. A recount is now underway to confirm he lost his re-election bid to Republican Mark Kennedy by less than 200 votes.
President Clinton is pushing for passage of the education bill, saying Saturday that it should be Congress’ first priority when returning.
“It is very important that we get right back to business and fulfill our responsibility to give our children a world-class education,” Clinton said.
Congress stayed in session longer than anticipated prior to the election, which made campaigning for re-election difficult for many lawmakers.
Before adjourning temporarily at the beginning of November, leaders from both parties agreed to increase education spending by $7.9 billion — 20 percent above last year. But, the plan was later rejected by GOP House leaders.
In addition to Pell Grants, funding proposals include money to hire new teachers, repair schools and give states the option of spending that money on other programs, such as special education or reading classes.
Clinton supports funding for school repairs, operating after-school programs, hiring new teachers, reducing class sizes, improving teacher training, turning around failing schools and expanding Head Start programs for preschoolers.
“The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on the values that unite us — our children and their education,” Clinton added Saturday. “Let us join together two parties and one country to give our children the school, the teachers and the future they deserve.”

— Wire stories contributed to this report.