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John Thune on Education

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (SD-AL)


Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Vote on the passage of the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Pres. Bush then vetoed the Bill.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority and duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-391 on Oct 23, 2007

Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".

To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act; Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-279 on Oct 27, 2005

Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.

To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-269 on Oct 26, 2005

Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted YES on requiring states to test students.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

Voted YES on allowing vouchers in DC schools.

Vote to create a non-profit corporation to administer federally-funded vouchers for low-income children in the District of Columbia.
Reference: Amendment introduced by Armey, R-TX; Bill HR 4380 ; vote number 1998-411 on Aug 6, 1998

Voted NO on vouchers for private & parochial schools.

Vote to pass a bill to allow states to use certain federal funds designated for elementary and secondary education to provide scholarships, or vouchers, to low-income families to send their children to private schools, including religious schools.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Riggs, R-CA; Bill HR 2746 ; vote number 1997-569 on Nov 4, 1997

$110M per year to teach abstinence in public schools.

Thune co-sponsored Abstinence Education Reallocation Act

Congressional Summary:Authorizes the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to award grants for qualified sexual risk avoidance education to youth and their parents. Requires such education to meet certain criteria, including:

  1. being age-appropriate, medically accurate, and evidence-based;
  2. teaching the skills and benefits of sexual abstinence as the optimal sexual health behavior for youth; and
  3. teaching the benefits of refraining from nonmarital sexual activity, the advantage of reserving sexual activity for marriage, and the foundational components of a healthy relationship.
Gives priority to programs that serve youth ages 12 to 19 and that will promote the protective benefits of parent-child communication regarding healthy sexual decisionmaking.

Opponent's argument against bill: (Nick Wing on Huffington Post) How much could it cost to keep teenagers from having sex? More than $100 million per year over the course of five years would be a good starting place, according to the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act. The bill seeks to award $550 million in Affordable Care Act grants over five years to programs that provide teenagers with abstinence-only education.

The abstinence-only effort stands as an effective counter to the Democratic-backed Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. Introduced the same day as the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, the bill seeks to "expand comprehensive sex education programs in schools and ensure that federal funds are spent on effective, age-appropriate, medically accurate programs." The legislation would also set down guidelines calling for sexual health programs that receive federal funding to feature LGBT-inclusive language on a variety of issues, reject gender stereotypes and provide accurate information about HIV.

Source: S.13 / H.R.718 13-S0013 on Feb 15, 2013

Supports a Constitutional Amendment for school prayer.

Thune co-sponsored a resolution for a School Prayer Amendment:

H.J.RES.52 (2001), H.J.RES.66 (1999), S.J.RES. 1, H.J.RES.12, H. J. RES. 108, & H. J. RES. 55:

Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer . Neither the United States nor any State shall compose the words of any prayer to be said in public schools.
H. J. RES. 78 (1997):
To secure the people's right to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: Neither the United States nor any State shall establish any official religion, but the people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed. Neither the United States nor any State shall require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, prescribe school prayers, discriminate against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion.
Source: H.J.Res.78 97-HJR78 on May 8, 1997

Other candidates on Education: John Thune on other issues:
SD Gubernatorial:
Dennis Daugaard
SD Senatorial:
Larry Pressler
Mike Rounds
Rick Weiland

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Page last updated: Dec 23, 2013