Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would remove $1 million for the Environmental Science Initiative at Drew University, and it would lower the cost of the bill by a commensurate amount.
I have nothing against environmental science. I think very highly of the gentleman who has sponsored this earmark, but I do have a problem with handing out these kinds of earmarks to private universities. Drew University is not only a private institution; it also has a reported endowment of more than $268 million. In addition, the university was recently awarded a grant of $950,000 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a grant that was for the establishment of the new Environmental Studies and
Sustainability major at the school. This is according to the university's Web site.
I applaud Drew University. It speaks highly of the university that it was [Page: H6966]
able to secure a grant from a foundation like the Mellon Foundation. Yet it's curious, in light of this grant, that Drew University should receive a $1 million earmark for what the sponsor said is the development of new environmental studies courses for the construction and improvement of science laboratories.
It sounds to me like this new course of study at Drew University not only got a $1 million grant from the foundation for the new major but that it is also getting a $1 million grant from the taxpayers as well. I'm sure the curriculum Drew offers is competitive and noteworthy, but so are the curricula of many universities across the country.
Mr. Chairman, there has been increasing attention paid to earmarks for private companies. What do we do about earmarks to private universities that have demonstrated their ability to secure generous grants from prestigious foundations? Why do the Federal taxpayers have to provide funding as well?
Drew University has the benefit of relationships with influential Members of Congress, obviously; but does that justify this kind of earmark?
As I mentioned, there is a bit of a spoil system here. I mentioned the CJS spending bill overall. When you look at simply one program, again, like the COPS grant, it contains nearly $123 million in earmarked funds. Powerful Members of Congress, appropriators, leadership, and committee chairs and ranking members are taking home more than $55 million of that. That represents 45 percent of the total dollars earmarked. Yet I would remind my colleagues again that this subset of Members comprises only
25 percent of this legislative body.
I would submit that the taxpayers have already had an education. We've received an education in Congress' wasteful earmarking ways. We don't need to subsidize a private university in this manner. I urge support of the amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, personally, I believe that we do need to rein in excessive government spending and promote fiscal discipline, and I've been heavily involved in that.
With that said, I want to thank you, Representative Flake, for bringing this very important project to everyone's attention. I know we can all agree on the importance of math and science education. Throughout my career in county, in State and now in Washington, I've been a strong proponent of instilling an interest in STEM education in our young people so that they may tackle our country's and our planet's most pressing issues.
The Drew University Environmental Science Initiative--and Drew is located in Madison, New Jersey--fits perfectly in line with this goal of advancing science education. This program benefits Drew's undergraduate students, and it assists Drew in expanding its partnership with local elementary, middle and high schools. Many speakers had come to the floor earlier, saying, you know, How are we going to meet the challenges of China and India?
One of the ways you meet the challenges of China and India with regard to their educational systems is to make sure that there are colleges and universities that are doing what they can to graduate students who are heavily involved in math and science studies.
I strongly share Drew's belief that, in order to confront tomorrow's environmental challenges, we must capture the interest and imagination of our Nation's youth early in education, and Drew does this.
I'd also add that this project, this science initiative, like all others proposed for funding, has been thoroughly vetted and completely transparent.
And may I add, unlike the gentleman's home State of Arizona, which ranks 21st in the Nation in tax dollars returned from Washington, my home State of New Jersey ranks 50 out of 50, dead last. So, quite honestly, I don't apologize for looking after my State, my public and private universities, because we want the best of America to be well educated, and I think the investments we're making in science, math, technology, and engineering in New Jersey and colleges and universities across the country
is money well spent.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.