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Congressman Rehberg picks education for students in Washington D.C., but not Montana

Congressman Rehberg votes for $300 million DC spending bill after cutting Montana Pell Grants

Helena, MT -- Montana’s millionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg voted today to spend $300 million on education for students in Washington D.C., but his latest budget plan would take away funding for Montana students who rely on Pell Grants. Rehberg's D.C. spending bill was not paid for, meaning it would add $300 million to the national debt.

Rehberg’s vote for HR 471 authorized $300 million education in funding for Washington D.C. students. [Congressional Budget Office, 3/14/11] In sharp contrast, the Continuing Resolution supported by Rehberg would slash $15 million for Pell Grants in Montana, leaving 24,000 Montana students without a lifeline to an affordable education. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/1/11]

In short, Rehberg wants the federal government to spend $300 million MORE for students in Washington D.C., and $15 million LESS for students in Montana.

“Maybe Congressman Rehberg is confusing Washington D.C. students with Montana students, but it’s more likely that he is just that out of touch,” said Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick. “It is completely irresponsible for Congressman Rehberg to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on DC after cutting education for Montana students.”
 
Students and educators in Montana have been speaking out against Rehberg’s budget proposal to take away Pell Grants from students across the state, but Rehberg has turned a deaf ear to their concerns.
 
More background on Rehberg’s decision to side with Washington D.C. over Montana:
 
Rehberg Voted for Bill to Cut Pell Grants By About $800 Per Student. As reported by NBC Montana, “Affording that degree could be harder with a 15% cut to Pell Grant funding. The maximum students can receive from the grant right now is $5,550 a year. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 1, last month that would cut the award amount by about $800.” [H.R.1, House Vote #147, 2/19/11; NBC Montana, 3/7/11]
 
Rehberg Voted to Cut $5.7 Billion from Pell Grant Program. As reported by U.S. News & World Report, “The Pell Grant Program, widely considered to be the backbone of financial aid to the country's most needy students, was subject to a decrease in funding as part of a Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1), which cleared the House last month and cut about $60 billion from the federal budget. Lawmakers levied a $5.7 billion cut to the Pell Grant Program, which grants aid to low- and moderate-income students based on a formula that considers annual income and school cost, among other factors.” [U.S. News & World Report, 3/2/11]
 
Rehberg Cut $15 Million From Montana Pell Grants Funding. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, HR 1 would cut $15 million from Pell Grants funding for Montana, affecting 24,000 Montana college students. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/1/11]

Voucher Program Costs $60 Million Per Year and INCREASES Deficit By $300 Million Over Five Years. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, “H.R. 471 would authorize the appropriation of $20 million for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016 for the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships for private-school tuition to parents of students who reside in the District of Columbia and meet certain criteria. In addition, it would authorize the appropriation of $40 million for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016 to improve Washington, D.C., public schools and to improve and expand public charter schools, provided that the mayor of the District of Columbia agrees to certain requirements. Based on historical spending patterns for similar programs, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $300 million over the 2012-2016 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, as shown in the following table.” [Congressional Budget Office, HR 471]