Congress Creates Numerous New Grant Programs, to Secretary's Dismay

August 04, 2008

Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education, isn’t happy about the dozens of new grant programs tucked into a major higher-education bill that cleared Congress last week, and she’s making her displeasure known.

In a letter sent to lawmakers last week, Ms. Spellings said that while the White House supports many pieces of the bill, which would reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the Bush administration remains concerned that the legislation would create more than 60 “new, costly, and duplicative programs.”

Many of the new programs were requested by interest groups or coalitions of groups. The programs include:

A program, sought by the conservative National Association of Scholars, that would provide grants to institutions to establish or strengthen programs that promote traditional American history, “the history and nature of, and threats to, free institutions,” and “the history and achievements of Western civilization.” A grant program, sought by the American Association of University Women, to support fellowships for women and minorities seeking doctoral degrees (see Page 6 of the association’s agenda). A grant program, sought by the National Court Reporters Association, to help colleges train writers to provide captioned, real-time information to the deaf and hard of hearing. A grant program, sought by the Campaign for Environmental Literacy, to help institutions develop, use, and evaluate sustainability curricula, practices, and academic programs.

President Bush has not threatened to veto the bill over its new programs and is expected to sign it into law. —Kelly Field