Kan. congressman wants funding for districts to meet NCLB Act
Rep. Dennis Moore said he had a simple solution to prevent the two-year-old federal No Child Left Behind education reform bill from becoming an unfunded mandate: Don't enforce it without the promised money.
During an interview at The Eudora News last week, the Lenexa Democrat said he voted for the No Child Left Behind education reform bill, but he noted that legislation was to provide states and local school districts $8 billion to help them realize its goals.
To prevent the bill from becoming another unfunded federal mandate, Moore said he introduced legislation in the U.S. House that would exempt local districts from the law's penalties until the promised money was made available.
"I hope No Child Left Behind works, but it can't work if not adequately funded," the congressman said. "We pay so much lip service on how much value we place on our children and the education of our children. If we do this, we could be setting some of our schools up to fail."
Most major pieces of legislation were revisited the first two to three years after they were passed, Moore said. School administrators in the 3rd District expressed concern that the act had unrealistic and, ultimately, unobtainable goals because it required special education to attain federal standards, Moore said.
The key to changing that requirement was heard while visiting with constituents during their current recess from Washington, D.C.
"I hope and believe the other 434 members of Congress are doing something similar to what I'm doing, and that's getting themselves educated," he said. "If they did this, they're going to hear the same thing I'm hearing. This isn't just unique to Kansas. This is happening all over the country.
"If they identify specific things, we can, I think, make amendments that will pass if 218 members think they should pass."
Moore said he didn't support the tax cut passed earlier this year because the House's Republican leadership refused to offer the expanded child tax credit to low-income taxpayers and because of the cuts' budget-busting consequences.
"We have this year, a $455 billion deficit," he said. "The largest expense in the budget after Social Security, Medicare and national defense, is what I call the debt tax. It's almost 18 cents of every dollar, and that could go to health care, education and anything worthwhile besides paying interest on our national debt."
Citing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's twice-a-year testimony before the House Budget Committee, Moore said the increasing budget deficit would make interest rates "soar" once the economy turns around.
¢ Medicare. Moore opposed a Medicare reform bill that passed the House earlier this year. Moore maintained the bill would "radically" change the program by moving toward privatization in the next 17 years. Meanwhile, he said, private insurance companies indicated they could afford to offer existing benefits.
The Senate passed its own version of the bill, and the legislation is now in conference committee. Moore said he could support the Senate bill.
The House-passed bill didn't address the issue of the costs of prescription drugs, Moore said. Over the objections of its leadership, the House approved legislation in July to allow the importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from industrialized countries.
Although he didn't see the importation bill as a solution to high prescription drug costs, it was a message to pharmaceutical companies to stop making seniors foot the bill for research and development costs to a degree unseen in other countries.
¢ Iraq. Moore said he supported authorizing the use of force in Iraq after three classified briefings in Iraq and one unclassified one. The message from all justified the use-of-force resolution, he said.
He remained confident weapons of mass destruction would be discovered. That effort was now being led by one of the men involved in the unclassified briefing -- David Kay, a former chief Iraq arms inspector.
As for post-war Iraq, Moore said the administration and the United States needed to return to the coalition-building efforts used to gain support for action in Afghanistan after 9-11.
"At this point, it's costing us now about $1 billion a week," he said. "I think it's wise to re-evaluate our position, to go back to NATO and our other allies and say, 'We had our differences. Let's put those behind us and work together on this, because this has happened and we owe something to the people of Iraq.'"
Moore said after he returned to Washington last September, he received four classified briefings on Iraq and one unclassified, led by former UN chief weapons inspector Kay, who was now back in Iraq heading efforts to find Saddam's outlawed weapons.