Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) voted against H.R. 3010, the conference report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act for FY06.

“This conference report is the latest example that the Republican majority in Congress is out of touch with the values and needs with the majority of Americans,” said Smith. “As a matter of fact, the Republicans will have spent more on tax cuts this year than they will on all education and labor programs. This is unacceptable.”

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program, an important tool in rehabilitating America’s troubled public schools, is cut by more than $700 million. Funding for Title I, which is the core of NCLB’s efforts to improve reading and math skills for disadvantaged children, received the smallest increase for Title I in 8 years, which means 3.1 million low-income children will be negatively affected by this cut. Also, Pell Grants, which help many lower-income students attend college, remain at $4,050 for the 4th straight year, despite the 35% increase in college costs since 2001.

“States and local school districts are also hurt by this bill,” said Smith. “The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B state grants received the smallest increase in a decade – this is a step backward in the effort to fully fund IDEA.”

Smith also said, “As a supporter of innovation and technology to help educate Americans, I was disappointed to see that the Education Technology Program was cut by $221 million or 45%,” said Smith. “When the United States is struggling to maintain its technological edge in the face of ever greater global competition, these policy decisions not only hurt American families and businesses, but also our long-term economic strength.”

With record prices for electricity and gas, Americans are going to need help heating their homes this winter and yet the Republican majority failed to increase funding for LIHEAP home heating assistance, which helps keep the heat on for low-income seniors and children.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, on a positive agenda that moves America forward and that helps all Americans, through commonsense, fiscally sound spending legislation. I will work to develop policy that educates more people and that provides assistance to those that need it the most,” said Smith.