Democrats want to use the big spending package designed to jump-start the staggering economy to send billions to long-term programs to help poor and disabled school children.
President Barack Obama’s recovery plan amounts to the biggest increase ever in federal money for schools. Many Republicans say it is not a short-term boost but an immense expansion that will be impossible to roll back.
“What will happen two years from now when the Democrat spending spree comes to an end?” asked California Rep. Buck McKeon, top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.
“It’ll never go away,” said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “You’re talking about a permanent increase at a time when we are in the worst financial shape we’ve ever been in.”
The measure making its way through Congress would achieve a long-sought goal of Obama and other Democrats. For the first time, it would fully fund No Child Left Behind, former President George W. Bush’s education program. Democrats complain Bush never provided enough money for the kindergarten-through-12th grade program.
Not a coincidence, critics said.