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 to change the title of the Act to read: ‘‘A bill to saddle future generations with billions in debt, and for other purposes.’’
Rep. Kline (R-MN) offered the amendment. The majority of Republicans shared the view, reflected in the wording of the proposed title change, that the legislation created a costly program the federal government could not afford. During the debate on the bill, Rep. Castle (R-DE) had said “if we start this program, you are going to see an increase in requests for school construction that is going to blow everything out of the water. . . And that says nothing about the overall deficit of our country.” Rep. Dreier (R-CA), had summarized the Republican view when he argued “the federal government can’t do absolutely everything.”
Rep. George Miller (D-CA), one of those leading the support for the measure, had responded to the Republican arguments that the deficit was too large to start a new program by noting that the Republican Bush Administration “left office with $1 trillion in deficits, when they entered office with $5 trillion in surplus . . . .” Rep. Andrews (D-NJ), who also supported the measure, had argued that the Republicans were “8 years too late” to talk about the deficit. He asked “where was the (spending) trigger before they enacted the reckless tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country? Where was the trigger before they enacted the disastrous Medicare part D program and plunged us further in deficit? And where was the trigger before they poured over $1 trillion into a mismanaged war in Iraq?”
The amendment failed on a vote of 149-257. All one hundred and forty-nine “aye” votes were cast by Republicans. Two hundred and thirty-two Democrats and twenty-five Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the title of the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act was not changed.