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Chris Van Hollen on Education

Democratic Representative (MD-8)


Voted NO on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program.

Congressional Summary:The SOAR Act award five-year grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations to carry out an expanded school choice opportunities to students who are District of Columbia residents and who come from households:
  1. receiving assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
  2. with incomes not exceeding 185% of the poverty line.
Provides funds to the Mayor of DC, if the Mayor agrees to specified requirements, for:
  1. the DC public schools to improve public education, and
  2. the DC public charter schools to improve and expand quality public charter schools.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.

Reference: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR); Bill HRes186 ; vote number 11-HV200 on Mar 30, 2011

Voted YES on $40B for green public schools.

Congressional Summary:Make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.

Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.

Reference: 21st Century Green Schools Act; Bill H.R.2187 ; vote number 2009-H259 on May 14, 2009

Voted YES on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance.

Amendment to preserve the authority of the US Supreme Court to decide any question pertaining to the Pledge of Allegiance. The bill underlying this amendment would disallow any federal courts from hearing cases concerning the Pledge of Allegiance. This amendment would make an exception for the Supreme Court.

Proponents support voting YES because:

I believe that our Pledge of Allegiance with its use of the phrase "under God" is entirely consistent with our Nation's cultural and historic traditions. I also believe that the Court holding that use of this phrase is unconstitutional is wrong. But this court-stripping bill is not necessary. This legislation would bar a Federal court, including the Supreme Court, from reviewing any claim that challenges the recitation of the Pledge on first amendment grounds.

If we are a Nation of laws, we must be committed to allowing courts to decide what the law is. This bill is unnecessary and probably unconstitutional. It would contradict the principle of Marbury v. Madison, intrude on the principles of separation of powers, and degrade our independent Federal judiciary.

Opponents support voting NO because:

I was disappointed 4 years ago when two judges of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that our Pledge, our statement of shared national values, was somehow unconstitutional. I do not take legislation that removes an issue from the jurisdiction of this court system lightly. This legislation is appropriate, however, because of the egregious conduct of the courts in dealing with the Pledge of Allegiance.

By striking "under God" from the Pledge, the Court has shown contempt for the Congress which approved the language, and, more importantly, shows a complete disregard for the millions of Americans who proudly recite the Pledge as a statement of our shared national values and aspirations. No one is required to recite the Pledge if they disagree with its message.

Reference: Watt amendment to Pledge Protection Act; Bill H R 2389 ; vote number 2006-384 on Jul 19, 2006

Voted YES on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges.

This vote is on a substitute bill (which means an amendment which replaces the entire text of the original bill). Voting YES means support for the key differences from the original bill: lowering student loan interest rates; $59 million for a new Predominantly Black Serving Institution program; $25 million for a new graduate Hispanic Serving Institution program; provide for year- round Pell grants; and repeal the Single Lender rule. The substitute's proponents say:
  • The original bill has some critical shortcomings. First and foremost, this substitute will cut the new Pell Grant fixed interest rate in half from 6.8% to 3.4%, to reduce college costs to those students most in need.
  • It would also establish a new predominantly black-serving institutions programs to boost college participation rates for low-income black students, and a new graduate Hispanic-serving institution program.
  • As we saw from 1995 to 2000, the questions employers were asking was not your race, not your ethnicity, not your religion, they wanted to know if you had the skills and talents to do the job. Most often today, those skills and that talent requires a higher education. A college education is going to have to become as common as a high school education.
    Reference: Reverse the Raid on Student Aid Act; Bill HR 609 Amendment 772 ; vote number 2006-080 on Mar 30, 2006

    Rated 100% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

    Van Hollen scores 100% by the NEA on public education issues

    The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

    To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
    In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
    Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

    Sponsored extending subsidized federal student loan rates until 2015.

    Van Hollen co-sponsored Student Loan Affordability Act

    Congressional Summary:Amends title IV (Student Assistance) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend the 3.4% interest rate on Federal Direct Stafford loans to loans first disbursed to undergraduate students between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2015. Replaces the [termination date of] 2013 with 2015.

    Proponent's argument for bill:(US PIRG press release): The Student Loan Affordability Act keeps interest rates affordable for students over the next two years. If Congress fails to act by July 1, interest rates on federal Subsidized Stafford Loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%. That would hike the cost of college by $1,000 per student, per loan, for over 7 million students across the country. The bill pays for extending the current interest rates through 2015 by closing three non-education tax loopholes.

    Opponent's argument against bill:(Rep. Tom Cotton, R-AR): Unfortunately, too many students today struggle for years to repay their loans because Washington politicians dictate student-loan rates and end up hurting students and taxpayers alike. It's causing tuition costs to skyrocket, leaving students buried in debt, often without jobs, and forced to delay buying a home and starting a family. As students struggle to repay their loans--regardless of the interest rate--taxpayers are on the hook for a $100 billion bailout--a burden hard-working Arkansans shouldn't have to bear. A better path is to let Arkansas's hometown banks work with students and families to finance higher education, just as they do with homes, farms, businesses, and other loans. I'm committed to bringing affordable higher education to every Arkansan and ending the federal-government monopoly on the student-lending business.

    Source: S.707 / H.R.1433 13-H1433 on Apr 11, 2013

    2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Chris Van Hollen on other issues:
    MD Gubernatorial:
    Martin O`Malley
    MD Senatorial:
    Barbara Mikulski
    Benjamin Cardin

    Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
    FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
    FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
    IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
    LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
    MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
    MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
    NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
    NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
    SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

    Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
    FL-13:David Jolly(R)
    FL-19: Pending Nov.4
    IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
    LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
    MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
    MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
    NC-12: Pending Jul.15
    NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
    SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
    Won primary 2014:
    TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
    VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

    Retiring to run for Senate in 2014:
    AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
    CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
    GA-1: Jack Kingston(R)
    GA-10:Paul Broun(R)
    GA-11:Phil Gingrey(R)
    HI-1: Colleen Hanabusa(D)
    IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
    LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
    MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
    MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
    OK-5: James Lankford(R)
    TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
    WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

    Former Reps running for House in 2014:
    AL-5: Parker Griffith(R)
    CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
    GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
    CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
    IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
    IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
    MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
    MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
    NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
    NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
    NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
    OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
    PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
    TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
    Lost primary 2014:
    TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
    VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)

    Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
    AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
    CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
    ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
    PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
    VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

    Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
    AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
    AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
    CA-11:George Miller(D)
    CA-25:Howard McKeon(R)
    CA-31:Gary Miller(R)
    CA-33:Henry Waxman(D)
    CA-45:John Campbell(R)
    IA-3: Tom Latham(R)
    MI-4: Dave Camp(R)
    MI-6: Tom Petri(R)
    MI-12:John Dingell(D)
    MN-6: Michele Bachmann(R)
    NC-6: Howard Coble(R)
    NC-7: Mike McIntyre(D)
    NJ-3: Jon Runyan(R)
    NJ-12:Rush Holt(D)
    NY-4: Carolyn McCarthy(D)
    NY-21:Bill Owens(D)
    PA-6: Jim Gerlach(R)
    UT-4: Jim Matheson(D)
    VA-8: James Moran(D)
    VA-10:Frank Wolf(R)
    WA-4: Doc Hastings(R)
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    Page last updated: Jun 20, 2014