Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume to the gentlewoman from the District of Columbia, the Honorable, and I wanted to say Representative and I will say Representative, Representative ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON.
Ms. NORTON. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his kindness in yielding to me, the chairman of our subcommittee who has strongly supported the bill before us, H.R. 1124, and has expeditiously on every occasion moved this bill forward. We especially appreciate it, as the bill is at the end point of its authorization.
I want to also thank Ranking Member Marchant for his help and support of this bill; Chairman Waxman, who, as ranking member and now as Chair, has strongly supported this bill; Ranking Member Tom Davis, who, as Chair of the full committee, now as ranking member, has co-sponsored the bill from the beginning with me and was instrumental in its passage initially.
I want to thank in the Senate Senators Voinovich and Susan Collins, and of course the Chair of the full committee, Chairman Lieberman. These have been the chief advocates in the Senate, and they would have passed the bill exactly as it came to them.
I think I need only say to the House, which has overwhelmingly supported this bill, that that support has been vindicated; that the President of the United States has increased the budget by $2 million, that he doesn't do lightly, and I think it's because of the payoff, payback of the investment. The increase in college attendance over 5 years, massive increase; the 646 universities and colleges in 47 States and the District of Columbia where these students are now going, many of them would have
not attended college at all. I want to thank Don Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post, for his work in encouraging millions in private dollars as a complementary program to this program, his is the College Access Program, which is essential to the success of this program because its guidance of students seeking to go to college, and indeed financial aid, have been important to the success of this bill.
This is here because of a Senate amendment which we reluctantly accepted simply to get the bill through. The Senate defeated another amendment that would have destroyed the bill because it would have allowed money to go to private as well as public college. Our only point is to give residents the same access to the State university system as everybody else who graduates from high school has.
We appreciate that the Senate has passed the bill now unanimously. And we ask the House to repeat its overwhelming support of the bill when the bill was here only a few months ago.
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise today in strong support of H.R. 1124, legislation I introduced earlier this year to extend the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Program through 2012.
This past May, the House approved the bill overwhelmingly and sent it to the Senate. Last month, after adding an amendment to exclude families who make more than $1 million a year from participating in the program, the Senate passed the bill 96-0. The amended legislation is now pending before the House. I urge my colleagues to support it.
Prior to the creation of this program in 1999, residents of the Nation's capital did not have the luxury afforded to high school graduates everywhere else in the country, the chance to attend public colleges and universities at in-State tuition rates. This program levels the playing field by allowing District graduates to attend public colleges and universities at in-State tuition rates.
The success of the Tuition Assistance Program is overwhelming and indisputable. College enrollment of public high school graduates in the District has doubled in the 7 years since the program was created from 30 percent to 60 percent, with 5,300 District graduates currently participating in the program. Few, if any other, federally funded initiatives can claim this level of success.
The program has always received broad bipartisan support. Both Houses of Congress unanimously passed authorizing legislation for the program in 1999, and again in 2005. And the President has always supported full funding for the program in his annual budget request to Congress.
The proven success of the program and the District's unique status make our choice simple. Congress should continue to support this legislation to provide higher education opportunities to high school graduates in the Nation's capital. I can't tell you how many parents told me, ``We would have moved to the suburbs if the program didn't exist.''
Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support a level playing field for high school graduates in the District. It's the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do.
I would also, at this point, like to thank, on the Republican staff, Mason Allinger, Howard Denes and David Marin for their hard work in bringing it to this moment.
Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to commend Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Representative Tom Davis for their continued work and collaboration on the development of this legislation.
I rise in strong support of H.R. 1124, the District of Columbia College Access Act of 1999. It will reauthorize funding for the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG) program which will help promote higher education for high school graduates in the District of Columbia.
DCTAG provides grants for District high school students to attend public colleges and universities nationwide at in-State tuition rates. The bill provides smaller grants for District students to attend private institutions in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities, HBCUs, nationwide.
The impact of this legislation on the community and in the lives of the students who receive the grant cannot be minimized. DCTAG reaches students and communities where there is little hope of being able to obtain a college education. This is particularly true for many of the students that participate in DCTAG; 58 percent of the students that participate in the program come from low-income households. Furthermore, students that participate in the program are attending educational institutions
that are known to nurture students of color. Five of the top 10 private schools these students attend are Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Hampton University, Morehouse College, Virginia Union University, and St. Augustine's College and Bennett College.
While students from all races participate in the program and attend over 270,000 institutions in 47 States, including nationally recognized public institutions like the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of Illinois at both Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, the University of California Berkley, and the Ohio State University, this program serves a community that is lacking resources, especially for students of color from low-income households.
On March 22, 2007, the Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia held a hearing on DCTAG. During the hearing, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, parents of DCTAG students, and former DCTAG scholars testified to the benefits of the program. DCTAG has helped thousands of D.C. residents achieve their dream of attending college. If not for DCTAG, many of these students would not be able to afford [Page: H11327]
the rising cost
of a college education. The DCTAG program helps to turn dreams into realities.
Madam Speaker, again I want to commend ranking minority member, Representative Tom Davis, and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton for introducing this legislation.
I want to end by suggesting that, given the fact that there is only one public institution of higher learning in the District of Columbia, that many of these young people would never have the opportunity to attend traditional State colleges and universities were it not for the DCTAG program. I urge its passage.
Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Let me thank my colleague from Illinois for helping to shepherd this through today, and of course my friend from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton) who has been there from the beginning. This legislation at the very beginning had some tough sledding moving it through both Houses of the Congress. And also our thanks to Don Graham, who is really the father of this. The idea originated with him and he brought it to our attention early on in our congressional
careers, and we are able to move it forward. But he brought a lot of bipartisan support from the business community to bear.
I urge adoption of the bill.
I yield back the balance of my time.