H.R. 2187, the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, authorized $6.4 billion in new grants and low-interest loans to local educational agencies for the construction, repair, modernization and “greening” of public educational facilities. This was a vote on an amendment to H.R.2187 that would encourage schools receiving funds for projects under this Act to educate their students about the projects that the schools have undertaken. This included both how the projects function as well as the environmental, energy, and sustainability benefits.
Rep. Giffords, speaking in support of her amendment, said it would encourage schools receiving funds to educate their students about the projects that they have undertaken. This would include both how the projects function as well as the environmental, energy, and sustainability benefits. She said it would also provide an opportunity to teach students about how to use natural resources in terms of the way it affects the world economically, environmentally, and geopolitically. Giffords also argued that it will expose students to new technologies and show them how they can solve problems through creativity and innovation. She said: “(W)e live in an increasingly technological world; we must take every opportunity to inspire our kids and equip them with the skills that they're going to need for 21st-century problems.
Rep. McKeon (R-CA), who was managing the bill for the Republicans, first noted that there was some disagreement about whether funding school construction is a proper role of the federal government; but, referring to the amendment, he said “it's difficult to argue that any such program should not contain an educational component” and noted that he would support it and ask his Republican colleagues to support the amendment.
Most Republican House Members objected to any federal activity they considered “interference” in local school decisions. This general opposition led the majority of Republicans to oppose the Giffords amendment. They believed that the amendment tied a recommendation of what should be taught in the schools to federal assistance in funding school construction and renovation.
The amendment passed by a vote of 334-97. Two hundred and fifty-four Democrats and eighty Republicans voted “aye”. Ninety-six Republicans and one Democrat voted “nay”. As a result, language was added to the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act to encourage schools receiving funds for projects under the Act to educate their students about those projects.