Capitol Building

Morning Action: Amnestied Illegal Immigrants Eligible for Federal Student Loans

AMNESTY. The Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill would allow registered provisional immigrants to qualify for federal student loans:

Under the immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee, RPIs qualify for loans under the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Direct Student Loan program. While RPIs can’t get grants, the loans will help millions of needy students go to college. I’m hopeful that the loan language will stay in the bill as it moves through the full Senate and House of Representatives.

IST.  A multistate coalition has formed in opposition to the Internet sales tax:

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox on Wednesday announced the formation of a multistate coalition opposed to a proposed federal Internet sales tax bill that would force businesses to collect sales tax for other states, counties and cities.

Fox told reporters at a news conference at the Capitol in Helena, Mont., that the proposed legislation would benefit other states and local jurisdictions which can’t balance their budget at the expense of Montana taxpayers and small businesses.

The U.S. House is considering the measure.

“Montanans have rejected a sales tax several times, and they certainly don’t want to be forced to collect the sales taxes of 9,600 cities, counties and states,” Fox said. “If we don’t have our own sales tax, what makes Washington, D.C., think we need to be forced to collect sales taxes for other states?”

Obama has indicated he would sign the bill if it gets to his desk. Several Montana businesses have been working with Fox after expressing their strong opposition to the bill.

NCLB.  The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced a bill to overhaul No Child Left Behind (sub. req’d):

Senators advanced the amended bill 12-10, despite Republican criticisms that the legislation (S 1094) places too much power in the hands of the federal government.

Under the measure, sponsored by Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, school districts would have more flexibility to create personalized student accountability systems. The bill would require evaluation systems for teachers and principals and interventions to assist failing schools.

The bill would depart from a much-criticized provision in the current law (PL 107-110) that requires states to develop an accountability system, called Adequate Yearly Progress, to ensure that all students are proficient in math and reading by 2014. Instead, the measure reflects the Obama administration’s waiver system, which has freed 37 states and the District of Columbia from many of the current mandates, including the accountability system.

Because states with waivers have already adopted Education Department-approved accountability systems, which differ slightly from state to state, Harkin’s bill allows those states to continue to use those systems. States that haven’t overhauled their accountability systems must create a system that tracks student academic achievement and growth, English language proficiency and, for high schools, graduation rates for all students.

Heritage has explained that NCLB’s accountability requirements resulted in modest gains that were dwarfed by unintended consequences by creating perverse incentives for states to weaken standards and reduce transparency.    The requirement that schools make “adequate yearly progress” is an incentive to water down tests and limit transparency so that they can make students appear more proficient.

NDAA.  The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) is pushing back on President Obama’s misguided nuclear disarmament agenda.  President Obama erroneously stated last year that the U.S. has more nuclear weapons than it needs, and his previous arms control treaty, New START, requires the U.S. to spend millions of dollars depleting its nuclear weapons.  HASC’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) “prohibits elimination of the nuclear triad and limits availability of funds for further nuclear reductions.”  Heritage explains why this bill advances U.S. national interests:

The U.S. is currently the only nuclear weapons state without a substantive nuclear weapons modernization program. This increases doubts about U.S. nuclear security guarantees in the minds of both U.S. allies and adversaries. The HASC NDAA takes prudent steps to halt this trend.

The bill also prohibits Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) entities from lobbying or advocating for the CTBT in the U.S. The Senate rejected the CTBT in 1999. There is no reason why the U.S. should be spending resources on the treaty’s implementation or fund lobbying activities related to the treaty.

The bill also links funds for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) with the B61 Life Extension program. Contrary to the assertion that the bill would slash the budget for the GTRI right away, it would simply ensure that the critical nuclear weapons programs remain on schedule.

 

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