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A Familiar Face on the Senate Education Committee

By Alyson Klein — January 22, 2009 1 min read

Sen. John McCain of Arizona may have lost the White House but he got the next best thing: A seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

For a guy who barely ever mentioned schools on the campaign trail and included a program already in law as a key part of his pre-K plan, McCain has been surprisingly visible on education issues lately.

On Martin Luther King day, he got a warm welcome from a crowd of mostly Obama supporters at an event hosted by the Education Equality Project, whose no-excuses education reform manifesto McCain signed. (You can read more about the role the Education Equality Project played on the campaign trail here).

Of course, senators take seats on the HELP committee for a variety of reasons. Some are much more excited about working on health and labor legislation than on school issues, so it’s tough to say if McCain joined specifically to focus on K-12 policy.

Other new members on the HELP committee include Sen. Robert Casey, Jr., D-Pa., a pre-K proponent, and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. (You can check out her fairly detailed education plan from the campaign here). There’s also one vacancy, which I’m guessing will go to newly sworn in Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, the former Denver schools chief.

On the other side of the Capitol, Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico, Jared Polis of Colorado, Dina Titus of Nevada, and Paul Tonko of N.Y., have joined the House Education and Labor Committee. (Alexander Russo seems to be getting a kick out of Fudge’s name).

Democrats for Education Reform hearted Polis way back during his contested primary.

Joining on the Republican side of the aisle are Reps. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Tom McClintock of California, Duncan D. Hunter of California, and Phil Roe of Tennessee. Guthrie has won the College Board’s “State Education Leader of the Year” award.

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