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Retiring Republicans: Part II

Here’s some inside baseball on those retirements of congressional Republicans I wrote about earlier this week: Their departures may have an impact on the bottom-line for some education programs. A number of the retiring Republicans have helped control the purse strings for education as members of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing education spending. In fact, four out of the six regular GOP members of the panel are retiring.

The retiring members are:

Rep. James T. Walsh of New York, the ranking member on the subcommittee overseeing education funding. He's been a supporter of funding for special education , offering an amendment to boost funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act last year when the full Appropriations Committee considered the education spending bill. And he voted to override President Bush's veto of the fiscal 2008 education appropriations measure, and called attention to it in a speech on the floor of the House.

Rep. Ralph Regula of Ohio, who served as chairman of the subcommittee from 2000 to 2006. He’s supported alternative pay plans for teachers.

Rep. John E. Peterson of Pennyslvannia, another member of the subcommittee. He recently voiced his support for vocational education, a program President Bush is again seeking to cut. And he defended earmarks in a recent Education Week story.

Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida, who supports a bill sponsored by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., that would allow states to “opt” out of No Child Left Behind’s accountability provisions.

The departures mean there will be a lot of new faces on the Republican side of the aisle in the House subcommittee overseeing education spending starting in 2009. The Democrats are likely to retain control of Congress and, therefore, the subcommittee, so their priorities will likely prevail.

But the new Republican members' views on No Child Left Behind, alternative pay for teachers, and other programs will help influence how much money those programs get. As the Minority Leader, Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, a key architect of the No Child Left Behind Act, will have a major say in who gets those coveted open slots – and he’s a fan of school choice, performance pay, and accountability.

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