Democrats End Boycott, Name Members to Education Subcommittees
Democrats finally named members to the House of Representatives’ Education subcommittees, ending a boycott triggered by a controversial Republican oversight plan for historically Black colleges and Hispanic-serving institutions.The two sides announced a settlement to their dispute in mid-March, as Republicans amended their original plan to divide higher education policy among two new subcommittees (see Black Issues, March 29). Under that original plan, most postsecondary programs were to fall to a new 21st Century Competitiveness subcommittee, while HBCUs and HSIs were to go to a Select Education subcommittee that also includes social service programs.Many Democrats of color objected to the move, claiming it would “segregate” the minority-serving institutions from the rest of higher education. Republicans countered that the plan would give HBCUs and HSIs more visibility, but they later agreed to place the minority-serving institutions in the 21st Century subcommittee. The Select Education subcommittee still will have some oversight duties with HBCUs and HSIs, which may allow that panel’s chairman, Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., to follow through with plans to conduct hearings at HBCUs this year. So far, no hearing dates have been scheduled. Hoekstra, speaking at the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) conference last month in Washington, apologized for how the year started off with the debate surrounding the jurisdiction and oversight of minority-serving institutions. “This never needed to happen,” Hoekstra said.To bring the issues to conclusion, lawmakers unanimously approved the compromise along with a plan of action for the 107th Congress. Democrats also named Hawaii Rep. Patsy Mink as senior Democrat to the 21st Century subcommittee and Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer as senior Democrat to the Select Education panel.
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