2:07 PM EDT

James A. Traficant Jr., D-OH 17th

Mr. TRAFICANT. Mr. Chairman, I have been offering buy-American amendments in this Congress for a number of years. I believe this is a good bill; and I want to commend my colleague and friend, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. BOEHNER), and one of the fine leaders on our side of the aisle, the gentleman from California (Mr. GEORGE MILLER), for a good bill.

Certainly there can be some improvements. However, there are some concerns that I have and some recommendations that I want to make. I want to make this to the Republican leadership, even though I know there are other complicating issues that would surround the issue of construction.

I believe the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. KILDEE) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. OWENS) are exactly right. We in Congress have built a number of prisons, and I do not demean the Congress for such action. But, Mr. Chairman, we have put but little money into construction of school facilities.

I do not believe we have to put a ton of money into it, Mr. Chairman. It could be a 20 percent participatory matching thing if local money and State money is available. But I think in conference or in some mechanism, the Republican leadership should look at that issue.

What the Traficant amendment says is that, number one, on any funds expended under this bill, it is the sense of Congress that when making purchases, they shall buy and we should buy American-made products. But it also says that a notice shall be given of same by the Secretary when awards are made.

There is one last provision. It deals with the hope and what I think is the righteousness of placing some construction money in with attachments, even if it is just 10 percent, 15 percent, for those hard-pressed communities that cannot afford to build new schools, where they have trailers outside, Mr. Chairman.

It says when they make such construction, if they receive money under this bill, they shall use American-made steel in such construction.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

2:10 PM EDT

John A. Boehner, R-OH 8th

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, the author of the amendment, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. TRAFICANT), has a very good amendment. We certainly do not have any problem with it. Certainly I support the buy-American amendments that the gentleman from Ohio has offered over the years.

To the extent some money in this bill could be used for school construction, I certainly do not have any problem with the gentleman's amendment and will accept it.

Mr. Chairman, on an unrelated issue I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. DEMINT).

2:10 PM EDT

John A. Boehner, R-OH 8th

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, the author of the amendment, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. TRAFICANT), has a very good amendment. We certainly do not have any problem with it. Certainly I support the buy-American amendments that the gentleman from Ohio has offered over the years.

To the extent some money in this bill could be used for school construction, I certainly do not have any problem with the gentleman's amendment and will accept it.

Mr. Chairman, on an unrelated issue I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. DEMINT).

2:10 PM EDT

Jim DeMint, R-SC 4th

Mr. DEMINT. Mr. Chairman, it was my intention later today to offer an amendment to allow for a Straight A's pilot program to give States additional flexibility to demonstrate how they could achieve better student performance by replacing Federal programs with innovative programs at the State or local level.

However, I will not be offering the DeMint Straight A's amendment today. Yesterday, I met with the President and the Vice President, and we agreed that the State and local flexibility provision will remain a top priority for the final bill, but that this important idea would be best served if I withdraw the amendment at this time or did not offer it.

I want to thank the President for his assurance that he will use all the resources available to him to make sure that Straight A flexibility for States and local school districts is a part of the final education reform bill.

I also shared with the President that without the Straight A's language, I would be unable to support the current bill on the floor today. While I am reluctant to not vote for the bill, I feel I must, given the absence of key education reform provisions on flexibility and choice.

It is my hope and expectation that this important Straight A's flexibility provision will be included in the House-Senate conference bill. Mr. Chairman, Straight A's is a good education reform policy, and the pilot program is worthy of inclusion in the final education package.

The DeMint Straight A's amendment would have allowed seven States and 25 local school districts the option of entering into a performance agreement with the Secretary of Education. Under approved, results-oriented contracts, State and local school districts would be able to combine funds from a few or all of the eligible Federal formula grant programs that they administer at the State level and would be free from most of the administrative costs of those individual programs.

In exchange for this flexibility, participating States and local schools would have to meet their performance objectives for improving student academic achievement.

Mr. Chairman, this House has already passed an even less restrictive version of Straight A's last year, so most of us have already confirmed that we believe the flexibility provided in Straight A's is exactly what America needs.

I know we all want the same outcome: excellent schools all across the country which provide all children access to a solid education. In order for that to happen, we cannot continue the status quo. We need to declare failure as unacceptable, challenge the status quo, and provide the mechanisms necessary for positive change to occur.

This amendment would not have required any State or school district to participate. It would be a pilot program to give a few States and local school districts around the country the opportunity to break the mold, to be innovative in their approach to education.

Under Federal law, all they run into is red tape. This would give them the open door to truly meet the needs of their students and work to close the achievement gap in the manner that best suits their State and local districts.

The bottom line is that States and local schools must show that their students are learning, not that the bureaucrats are checking the right boxes to continue Federal funds. The freedom would be refreshing.

[Time: 14:15]

2:14 PM EDT

Timothy J. Roemer, D-IN 3rd

Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. TRAFICANT) for yielding me the time.

We on our side of the aisle, Mr. Chairman, support the sense of the Congress amendment to both buy American steel and also conform to the Buy American Act.

We wish we would have had the opportunity to have a school construction amendment on the floor so that this amendment would even mean more.

Mr. Chairman, with regard to the colloquy that just took place with the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. DEMINT), I want to continue to say that I strongly support this bipartisan bill.

However, with the inroads towards removing some flexibility at the local level and delivering dollars directly to the classroom yesterday with the Tiberi amendment, I am glad that we will not go any further on the DeMint amendment and that this conference, I hope, will not go any further.

I think if we continue to go through a Straight A's sloganeering, bumper sticker approach that we will lose bipartisan support for this bill left and right and that the tight middle that [Page: H2607]

has held this bipartisan agreement together could erode very quickly.

2:14 PM EDT

Timothy J. Roemer, D-IN 3rd

Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. TRAFICANT) for yielding me the time.

We on our side of the aisle, Mr. Chairman, support the sense of the Congress amendment to both buy American steel and also conform to the Buy American Act.

We wish we would have had the opportunity to have a school construction amendment on the floor so that this amendment would even mean more.

Mr. Chairman, with regard to the colloquy that just took place with the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. DEMINT), I want to continue to say that I strongly support this bipartisan bill.

However, with the inroads towards removing some flexibility at the local level and delivering dollars directly to the classroom yesterday with the Tiberi amendment, I am glad that we will not go any further on the DeMint amendment and that this conference, I hope, will not go any further.

I think if we continue to go through a Straight A's sloganeering, bumper sticker approach that we will lose bipartisan support for this bill left and right and that the tight middle that [Page: H2607]

has held this bipartisan agreement together could erode very quickly.

2:17 PM EDT

John A. Boehner, R-OH 8th

Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, I congratulate the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. TRAFICANT) on his amendment. No one in America wants their child to go to a bad school. We know the difficulties of building new school buildings across the country are very different.

In our home State of Ohio, the State government was never involved in the building of school buildings until recently. As the gentleman knows, in Ohio, the State government now has a pool of funds to help needy districts build the school buildings they need.

I and many of our colleagues have believed for some time that allowing school construction to remain the purview of local school districts and States is the appropriate role for them and not the appropriate role for us.

2:17 PM EDT

James A. Traficant Jr., D-OH 17th

Mr. TRAFICANT. Mr. Chairman, the only thing I would like to say is to qualify for that money, my impoverished city, the major city, Youngstown, already hard-strapped, did go ahead and raise $134 million. They destroyed every other option they had. Certainly, some participatory construction money from the Federal Government would not hurt us. After all, we are building prisons in those same cities.

Mr. Chairman, I am asking the gentleman and his leadership just to consider that. It may not need to be a big percentage, but I think in good faith there should be some participatory involvement by the Federal Government in the construction of safe schools.

2:18 PM EDT

Dale E. Kildee, D-MI 9th

Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote, and pending that, I make the point of order that a quorum is not present.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. BRADY) will be postponed.

The point of no quorum is considered withdrawn.

It is now in order to consider amendment No. 21 printed in House Report 107-69.

AMENDMENT NO. 21 OFFERED BY MRS. MINK OF HAWAII