Harkin's New Hat Boosts His Sway Over K-12
ESEA, IDEA on Committee’s Horizon
Now that U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has stepped into the chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, he will have broad authority over both policy and money for education issues in the Senate. That puts him in a powerful position as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
As the chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending, Sen. Harkin—who will give up his post as the chairman of the chamber’s Agriculture Committee—already has significant say on K-12 spending and policy. He had a lead role in securing some $100 billion for education in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic-stimulus bill that passed in February.
The five-term Democrat’s dual chairmanship means that there will likely be less of a disconnection between education policy and financing, said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, a research and advocacy organization in Washington. “Most people don’t realize that once Congress passes a law, ... you have to go through a whole process again” to get the programs funded, said Mr. Jennings, a former longtime education...
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