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Robert Menendez on Education

Democratic Jr Senator; previously Representative (NJ-13)


Reducing duplication is no solution for education problems

Q: How should the national government should deal with rising college costs?

KEAN: It is vital that we ensure that aid to low-income students is our principle goal and the first priority of the system must be direct aid to students. We must reduce fraud in the current system. Pell Grant fraud cost $600 million between 2001 to 2004. Through the use of technology, we can curb systemic fraudulent abuse of the system. We should look for ways to merge duplicative programs and streamline federal regulation to provide additional savings.

MENENDEZ: My opponent isn’t interested in more funding and research for New Jersey’s public colleges and universities. Calling to combine a few federal programs is not a solution. In the state senate, Tom Kean Jr. consistently voted against state budgets providing financial aid for higher education. And, now he is merely providing cookie-cutter rhetoric to legitimate questions as to how we can expand access to the halls of higher learning.

Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate [X-ref Kean] , Sep 2, 2006

Educational Savings Accounts are only for the wealthy

Q: Do you favor any changes in the array of grants and loans available to prospective college students?

KEAN: While my opponent voted against the creation of Educational Savings Accounts, I believe they are an important component in providing educational opportunities for young people and parents. Parents and others can contribute collectively up to $2,000 each year to a Coverdell education savings account to be used for qualified educational expenses, like home computers, books, supplies, after-school programs, tuition, and tutoring programs. I think Congress should provide tax deductibility as an incentive to spur greater savings.

MENENDEZ: Tom Kean Jr. has no plan to help New Jersey’s families pay for college. And, he has no plan to increase financial aid. The only plan Tom Kean Jr. has-on this and nearly every issue-is to do whatever President Bush tells him to. Unlike my opponent, I believe that wealth and privilege ought not to be the only tickets to higher education.

Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate [X-ref Kean] , Sep 2, 2006

Democrats pushed college tuition tax deductions

Unlike my opponent, I believe that wealth and privilege ought not to be the only tickets to higher education. Just last week, I joined my Democratic colleagues in the Senate and tried to extend the deduction for college tuition-which the Bush Republicans blocked. Each year, more than 120,000 New Jersey families and students claim this deduction on their taxes. Yet, the Bush Republicans in Congress let this deduction expire at the end of last year. And, they have not acted to extend it. In fact, the Bush Republicans actually stripped it out of a tax package the Senate passed in February in favor of more tax cuts for capital gains and dividends - the very same cuts Pro-Bush Tom Kean Jr. has been touting as a top priority on the campaign trail. I fought to try and extend the deduction. If Tom Kean Jr. was in D.C. he simply would have marched in lock-step with his fellow Bush Republicans. My opponent stands with Bush in cutting aid to higher education. I’m standing up for you.
Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate , Sep 2, 2006

Voted YES 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 allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

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 NO 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 giving federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.

Motion to add language to the "Goals 2000: Educate America Act" to give federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.
Bill HR 1804 ; vote number 1994-85 on Mar 23, 1994

Rated 100% by the NEA, indicating pro-public education votes.

Menendez scores 100% by the NEA on public education issues

The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

Comprehensive sex ed for sexually-active adolescents.

Menendez co-sponsored Real Education for Healthy Youth Act

Award competitive grants to provide adolescents with comprehensive sex education to:

  1. replicate evidence-based sex education programs,
  2. substantially incorporate elements of evidence-based sex education programs, or
  3. create a demonstration project based on generally accepted characteristics of effective sex education programs.
Prohibits federal funds provided under this Act from being used for health education programs that:
  1. deliberately withhold life-saving information about HIV;
  2. are medically inaccurate or have been scientifically shown to be ineffective;
  3. promote gender stereotypes;
  4. are insensitive and unresponsive to the needs of sexually active youth or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth; or
  5. are inconsistent with the ethical imperatives of medicine and public health.

Opponent's argument against bill: (Nick Wing on Huffington Post) An abstinence-only effort, introduced the same day, the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, stands as an effective counter to the Democratic-backed Real Education for Healthy Youth Act.

According to the text of the abstinence-only bill, sex education programs would need to be "medically accurate" and teach the "skills and benefits of sexual abstinence as the optimal sexual health behavior for youth" in order to qualify for grant money. The bill also calls for applicable programs to focus on the "holistic health, economic, and societal benefits that can be gained by refraining from non-marital sexual activity," as well as to provide an "understanding of how drugs, alcohol, and the irresponsible use of social media can influence sexual decision-making and can contribute to risky and often aggressive sexual behavior."

Source: H.R.725 / S.372 13-S0372 on Feb 14, 2013

Don't count combat pay against free school lunch.

Menendez signed Military Family Nutrition Protection Act

A bill to amend the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to require the exclusion of combat pay from income for purposes of determining eligibility for child nutrition programs and the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children.

Source: S.581 2009-S581 on Mar 12, 2009

Other candidates on Education: Robert Menendez on other issues:
NJ Gubernatorial:
Barbara Buono
Chris Christie
Cory Booker
NJ Senatorial:
Cory Booker
Frank Pallone
Jeff Chiesa
Rush Holt
Steve Lonegan

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Page last updated: Dec 26, 2013