Boehner Selected to Chair Education Committee
The transition of power is nearly complete in the House of Representatives, and there are new leaders on two panels critical to higher education.
Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, was elected chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which sets policy for the Higher Education Act and K-12 education. In claiming the spot, Boehner leapfrogged over more senior members, particularly Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., the most senior GOP member of the panel following the retirement of the former chairman, Rep. William Goodling, R-Pa.
Petri had some detractors among the House leadership because he is perceived as too moderate on some issues, particularly college financing. Petri is one of the few GOP lawmakers to strongly support direct lending, in which the federal government makes college loans directly to students. Banks and many conservatives oppose this concept.
Boehner also appeared to gain support because of his past standing in the House leadership. From 1994 to 1998, the Ohio lawmaker served as chairman of the Republican Conference, the fourth-highest ranking position in the House GOP. Boehner was ousted from that post in 1999 when Republicans elected Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., to that job.
Boehner just completed his 10th year in the House, while Petri has served for 22 years.
In the new Congress, the education panel must approve an extension of federal K-12 education programs that ran into obstacles last year. It also will begin to establish a framework for an upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which was last reviewed in 1998.
Elsewhere, Republicans selected Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, to take over the education appropriations subcommittee, a panel that sets budget levels for K-12 and higher education programs each year. Regula replaces the retired John Edward Porter, R-Ill., who won kudos from many education groups for his support of funding increases during the past six years. Regula is beginning his 15th term in the House.
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