On Thursday, March 5, 2015, at 10:00 A.M., the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access HAS POSTPONED a hearing titled, "Improving Capital Access Programs within the SBA." The hearing will be held in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will be webstreamed live HERE. The Subcommittee will reschedule the hearing at a date to be determined.
The purpose of the hearing is to examine capital access programs within the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Chairman Tom Rice (R-SC)
Witnesses and Testimony:
- Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NAGGL)
Chairmen John Kline (R-MN), Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Fred Upton (R-MI) responded to today’s Supreme Court oral arguments in the King v. Burwell case. The chairmen, who attended this morning’s oral arguments, are leading the House Republican working group to develop a plan to replace the president’s health care law over the long term and protect Americans affected by the decision in this case. Earlier this week they detailed some of their ideas to provide an off-ramp to the president’s health care law.
We are here today because the Obama administration forced a flawed and partisan law on the American people. Its implementation has been one problem after another, and today’s case underscores just how far beyond the law the administration has gone to prop up this fatally flawed plan. The law is clear – and the Supreme Court should order the IRS to enforce the law as it is written. If it does, we will be ready to act. While the president insists he has no plan B, which would be malpractice if true, we are preparing a thoughtful solution that frees the American people both from the consequences of the administration’s illegal implementation, but also from this law’s many costly mandates. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the House and in the states on responsible policies that put the American people back in charge of their health care. There is a better way.
Learn more about their plan here.
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The hearing examined the health and vibrancy of the American economy, particularly as it pertains to the creation, sustainability, and future growth of small businesses.
Opening Statement:Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Witnesses and Testimony:
- Mr. Jon Clifton, Partner, Managing Director, Government Division, Gallup, Washington, DC
- Ms. Cynthia Kay, Owner and President, Cynthia Kay and Company, Grand Rapids, MI
- Mr. David Burton, Senior Fellow in Economy Policy, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC
- Ms. Elana Fine, Managing Director, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, Robert H. Smith School of Business, College Park, MD
Surface Transportation Reauthorization - Oversight and Reform of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), subcommittee chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, will hold an oversight hearing on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, entitled “Surface Transportation Reauthorization - Oversight and Reform of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.”
This hearing will be the first in a series of hearings that examine the reauthorization of highway safety programs. The hearing will specifically focus on truck safety programs and Federal Motor Carrier Safe...
WASHINGTON, DC – Laminate flooring is found in millions of American homes because of its low cost and easy installment.
But a new report aired Sunday by CBS’ “60 minutes” found that laminate made in China and sold by retail giant Lumber Liquidators contained significant amounts of a formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that can cause cancer and lead to other ailments such as skin, eye, nose and throat irritations...
Small businesses are failing faster than they're starting up. Here's why that needs to change--and what we can do to make it happen.
By Rep. Steve Chabot
Running a small business is a tough job. As any entrepreneur knows, you often wear many hats. No matter your title, at some point you will act as your own tax accountant, marketing executive, regulatory expert, fundraiser, and human resources supervisor.
Yet throughout our history, American entrepreneurs and small businesses have done all these things and more. Their dogged determination has spurred the development of new technologies, new industries, and new jobs. But in the past few years, the business of being in business has gotten a lot more difficult.
Entrepreneurs often feel like the odds are unfairly stacked against them. In 2008, that feeling became fact. One of the most startling trends that has emerged from our uncertain and uneven economic recovery is that small businesses now fail at a rate faster than they are being created. Starting with the Great Recession--and for the first time since data on this concept has been collected--more new American businesses failed than succeeded. Back in 2008, this was just another piece of terrible economic news. It is surprising and troubling that in 2015, the trend continues. More than six years later, small firms are still dying at faster rate than they are being produced.
This is a real problem for a number of reasons. The first is that small firms already employ half of the American workforce. On top of that, small businesses create the vast majority of new job opportunities--seven out of every ten in most places. If you take into consideration the Kauffman Foundation’s findings that startups and new businesses are responsible for all net new jobs over the past 30 years, you reach one conclusion: fewer new businesses means fewer new jobs.
When we passed the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act earlier this year, the Speaker of the House pointed out that it is easier to start a business in Belarus and 44 other countries than it is in America. While this is unfortunately true today, it doesn’t have to be true tomorrow. Free enterprise embodies the essence of the American spirit. Our nation has been a steady force of certainty in an uncertain world in large part because it has always been a place where anyone with an idea and the willingness to work hard has the freedom to turn that idea into reality. We must not let that slip away.
The Small Business Committee is examining the most pressing challenges facing our entrepreneurs and small businesses. And we are working on solutions that will promote free enterprise and help us build an opportunity economy. That starts with understanding the importance of small businesses, and it continues with doing the difficult work to make starting and growing a business less complicated.
Congress can set the stage for that growth. We are focusing on solutions that reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, simplify the tax code, improve access to capital, and open new markets for companies to sell goods stamped “Made in the U.S.A.”
Every American business--from the most iconic brands to the most steadfast of neighborhood establishments--started as an idea. Making sure America remains a place where ideas and new businesses can take root will set the foundation for an opportunity economy holds promise for everyone.
The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a legislative hearing today to examine H.J. Res 29, a measure to block the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) unprecedented re-write of union election procedures. In December 2014, the NLRB finalized its ambush election rule, which significantly shortens the timeframe of union elections, obstructs workers’ right to a fair election debate, and violates employees’ privacy by granting union organizers greater access to their personal information. The House is expected to advance the resolution in the coming weeks.
During the hearing, members and witnesses discussed the urgent need for Congress to overturn a rule that will have devastating consequences for workers and their families.
“[The ambush election rule] severely cripples the right of each worker to make an informed decision,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL). “Deciding whether or not to join a union is a deeply personal choice. The outcome of that choice will affect workers’ wages, benefits, and other employment concerns for years. Workers deserve an opportunity to get the facts and discuss these matters with friends, family members, coworkers, and yes, employers too. Under this administration, the National Labor Relations Board is determined to deny workers this fundamental right.”
Labor attorney and former NLRB staff member, Arnold Perl, echoed these concerns: “[Workers’] rights have been abandoned by the new rule. As a result of quickie elections, employees may not be able to hear all the facts they need to know about risks of unionization. To the detriment of employees, the new rule imposes built-in obstacles which prevent or impede reasoned and informed choices by employees.”
Perl also outlined how the board’s regulatory scheme “tramples on employees’ rights of privacy," noting, "employers are required to turn over employees’ personal email addresses, cell phone numbers, shift hours and locations, and job classifications, even if the employee says he or she does not want to be contacted.”
“The ambush election rules mandate a serious invasion of employees’ privacy,” testified Glenn Taubman with the National Right to Work Legal Foundation. “Once employees’ information is handed over, unions can spread this personal information to union officers, organizers, supporters inside the shop and out, and to the entire internet, if they choose. The board places no real restrictions or safeguards on how unions use of disseminate this sensitive personal information.”
The board’s ambush election rule is further proof it has abandoned any effort to serve as a fair and impartial referee of the law. Speaking on behalf of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Roger King described the rules as “an unprecedented partisan policy initiative favoring organized labor” and warned it “will further erode its credibility as a neutral arbiter of labor relation issues in the workplace.”
Rep. Byrne concluded with the urgent need for congressional action: “I am hopeful … we will send to the president a resolution that reins in this activist board and rolls back this destructive regulatory scheme. The president will then have to decide whether he stands with Big Labor, or with the nation’s workers and job creators.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, read witness testimony, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Chairman Chabot's Opening Statement for Hearing on Building an Opportunity Economy: The State of Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Chairman Steve Chabot
Small Business Committee Hearing
Building an Opportunity Economy: The State of Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Good morning. This hearing will come to order. Thank you all for joining us.
Today, we are here to examine the state of small business. For the Members here, it’s not the first or last time we’ll have this conversation. We have it every time we talk to our constituents. They’re the ones who tell us the most about small business.
But in those conversations, we don’t have C-SPAN cameras, we don’t have stenographers, and it doesn’t make it into the Congressional record. So we’re having this hearing today for our constituents. To have a conversation for the record that we have already had many times back home, so that we – as Members of the Small Business Committee -- can start the legislative work of getting government off the backs of the American people.
1 out of every 2 employed Americans works at a small business. 7 out of every 10 new job opportunities are created by small businesses. When the federal government issues new rules, or raises taxes, or threatens to raise taxes, or increases health care costs, or prolongs a sense of uncertainty – this doesn’t just impact the name on a store front. It impacts real people. It impacts every American worker that puts a roof over their head and food on the table by working at that small business.
We have heard some say that our economy has recovered. And it has somewhat. But when you look at the number of unemployed Americans and the number of those who may be “employed” but can’t find full time work, it is clear that we are not where we should be.
As testimony today will reinforce, it’s not another sweeping government program that will make life better for Americans who depend on small businesses. The answer is hidden in the thousands of pages of regulations and tax policies, that are crushing the small business community. Another change that must be made – and this may be the most important change we can make – is to alter the mindset of the federal government so that it is always thinking about how its actions will impact our small businesses.
The labor force participation rate is at its lowest point in our history.
The percentage of long term unemployed is still much higher than before the recession.
And maybe the most disturbing trend: every year of the Obama administration has seen more businesses close their doors than open them.
Economists describe this as the number of business deaths exceeding the number of business births. In plain language it means we have a problem.
Small businesses are the foundation of our economy. As a Committee, we are here to make life better for small businesses and the working families that rely on them. Today, we begin that important work.
I want to thank each of our witnesses for taking the time to be with us today. I look forward to hearing your testimony. I now yield to our ranking member, Ms. Velázquez, for her opening statement.
Byrne Statement: Hearing on "H.J. Res. 29, Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures"
We are here today to discuss House Joint Resolution 29, which provides for Congressional disapproval under the Congressional Review Act of the National Labor Relations Board’s recently released rule that would drastically affect long-standing policies governing union elections.
For those members who served on the committee in previous congresses, our discussion today may elicit a dreadful sense of déjà vu. That’s because for nearly four years, the Obama National Labor Relations Board has sought to radically alter long-standing policies governing union elections, and as the Board pursued this misguided effort, House Republicans, led by this committee, have consistently fought to defend the rights of America’s workers and job creators.
The stated purpose of the board’s rule is to shorten the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date. The Board achieves this in a number of troubling ways, such as limiting the opportunity for a full and fair hearing of issues that may arise during the election proceedings and denying parties an opportunity to raise certain contested issues to the Board. The Board’s rule also grants union organizers unprecedented access to employees’ personal information.
These are by no means modest changes and they go far beyond simply “modernizing” the election process. In truth, the Board’s real goal is to dramatically tilt the outcome of elections in favor of union leaders by ambushing employers and workers without allowing them to fully understand their decision. The American people are on the losing end of the Board’s extreme culture of union favoritism.
The Board’s rule eviscerates the right of employers to speak freely to employees during an organizing campaign. Roughly 70 years ago, Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act to ensure employers have an opportunity to communicate with employees about union representation. Congress took this action not only to promote the voices of employers, but also to protect employee choice through a robust debate of important issues. The Board is overturning, by executive fiat, what Congress has expressly permitted by law.
The Board’s rule also severely cripples the right of each worker to make an informed decision. Deciding whether or not to join a union is a deeply personal choice. The outcome of that choice will affect workers’ wages, benefits, and other employment concerns for years. Workers deserve an opportunity to get the facts and discuss these matters with friends, family members, coworkers, and yes, employers too. Under this administration, the National Labor Relations Board is determined to deny workers this fundamental right.
Finally, adding insult to injury, the Board is placing the privacy and safety of America’s workers and their families in jeopardy. There is absolutely no reason why union organizers need employees’ phone numbers, email addresses, work schedules, and home addresses. Union coercion and intimidation is real and it is our responsibility to help stop it.
It is for these reasons this resolution is so urgently needed. In the past, Congress has tried offering a legislative response to the Board’s ambush election rule, one that would ensure workers, employers, and unions continue to enjoy protections that have been in place for decades. I want to thank Chairman Kline for his continued leadership in this area. Unfortunately, our Democrat colleagues in the Senate refused to stand with us.
However, I am hopeful with new allies in the Senate and the authority vested in Congress through the Congressional Review Act, we will send to the president a resolution that reins in this activist board and rolls back this destructive regulatory scheme. The president will then have to decide whether he stands with Big Labor, or with the nation’s workers and job creators. I urge the president and every member of Congress to choose the latter by supporting H.J. Res. 29.
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Examining the FY 2016 Budget Requests for the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, entitled “Examining the FY 2016 Budget Requests for the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation.”
Two Cabinet-level officials, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Transportation, will testify about the President’s FY 2016 budget request for their respective agencies. The budget request seeks $9.8 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Commerc...
Senate, House Leaders Introduce Bill to Provide Certainty to Employers Offering Innovative Employee Wellness Programs
“Employee wellness programs not only help control the cost of health insurance,” said Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, “but they also promote healthy lifestyles. Remarkably, executive overreach by the EEOC is actually punishing employers for offering wellness plans. Congress must take action to rein in this agency and provide the certainty necessary for more Americans to enjoy the benefits of these innovative health programs.”
“More and more, employers are using outcomes-based programs to make health insurance less expensive for their employees,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “Nearly half of all large employers say they plan to adopt these innovative plans by 2017, making it even more important to eliminate confusion caused by the EEOC and restore certainty for employers who want to reward their employees for leading a healthy lifestyle.”
“This is yet another example of the EEOC being out of step with employers and employees,” said Walberg, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. “Innovative approaches that empower employees to take more control of their personal health care decisions should be encouraged, not stymied by greater government overreach.”
“With so many employers taking advantage of the benefits that come with offering workplace wellness programs, it is important that Congress acts to clear any legal uncertainty or confusion,” said Enzi, chairman on the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security. “By reaffirming existing law, Congress is ensuring that employees can continue to benefit financially when they choose to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
“This legislation ensures what Congress has already decided – private companies are free to promote health and wellness among their employees through voluntary incentives like premium discounts, rather than heavy-handed federal mandates and taxes. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Preserving Employee Wellness Program Act, and applaud employers that put in place such programs to lower health care costs for employees while also creating a healthy workforce,” said Isakson, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.
“Our health care system needs common sense solutions driven by positive outcomes, not more uncertainty caused by the federal government,” said Scott. “Employee wellness plans have been proven to help control health insurance costs, and as more and more employers utilize them it is essential that the EEOC simply clarify its rules instead of pursuing litigation against employers because it has refused to issue guidance. I am excited to join my colleagues to introduce this important legislation that helps promote healthy lifestyles and cuts through some of the bureaucratic maze that Washington specializes in creating."
“With this bill, Congress’s bipartisan commitment to employee wellness programs should put a stop to EEOC’s overreach in seeking a court order to halt a company’s healthcare premium discount program,” said Hatch. “At a time when Obamacare is creating uncertainty for employers and employees, this act will provide legal certainty to employers offering workplace wellness programs."
“Once again during the Obama administration, Congress must clarify the intent of a bipartisan provision,” Roberts said. “In this case, I am happy to co-sponsor legislation that would reaffirm our commitment to business and health in regards to wellness programs. Financial incentives get results. Employers should be able to offer programs that encourage employees to make healthy lifestyle choices.”
A bipartisan provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allowed employers to discount health insurance premiums by up to 30 percent—or 50 percent if approved by the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services—for healthy lifestyle choices like quitting smoking or maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. A recent survey showed that 48 percent of all employers plan to add one of these programs by 2017. However, recent litigation pursued by the EEOC, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, has threatened the certainty of law for employers who offer these programs.
The Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, introduced yesterday by Alexander and Kline, will reaffirm existing law, which allows for employee wellness programs tied to a financial reward. The legislation clarifies that an employee’s spouse may participate in the program as well. It also provides employees up to 180 days to request and complete an alternative wellness program if it is medically inadvisable or unreasonably difficult for an employee to participate in the original employee wellness program. Finally, the legislation does not limit the EEOC’s authority to investigate and litigate complaints of employment discrimination.
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To review: ObamaCare made health insurance even more costly by requiring plans to include Washington-determined benefits and levels of coverage. The only way to get people to buy these plans was to mandate them. And the only way people could afford these plans was through hundreds of billions of dollars of government subsidies.
But the law—as written—offers subsidies only to people who buy plans “through an Exchange established by the State.” In other words, if you bought a plan through the federal exchange—and more than five million people did in 2014—you’re not eligible for the subsidy.
Not one to worry over the large print, the Internal Revenue Service handed out subsidies to people on both the federal and state exchanges. This blatant disregard for the law has put millions on the hook—because if you received a subsidy and lose it because of the administration’s illegal actions, you’ll face big insurance bills you can’t afford.
The Supreme Court should tell the IRS to enforce the law as written—not as the administration wishes it had been written. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in 2012, “Members of [the] Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law” but “possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments.”
But the question is: Then what? What about the people who will lose their subsidies—and possibly their coverage? No family should pay for this administration’s overreach. That is why House Republicans have formed a working group to propose a way out for the affected states if the court rules against the administration.
What we will propose is an off-ramp out of ObamaCare toward patient-centered health care. It has two parts: First, make insurance more affordable by ending Washington mandates and giving choice back to states, individuals and families. And second, support Americans in purchasing the coverage of their choosing.
Here’s how it would work:
First, make coverage more affordable. Any state that uses our off-ramp would be able to opt out of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates. These coverage requirements are driving up costs, so eliminating them would empower individuals and families to choose from a wider range of plans that fit their personal needs and budgets. Our proposal will also allow participating states to opt out of ObamaCare’s burdensome individual and employer mandates, allowing Americans to purchase the coverage they want.
We would also force insurers to compete for your business, rather than force Americans to buy a government-approved health plan under the threat of IRS fines. Let people buy insurance across state lines. Stop frivolous lawsuits by enacting medical-liability reform. Let small businesses band together so they get a fair deal from insurance companies. Our committees and nonpartisan analysts alike estimate that these proposals will cut costs and raise quality across the board.
At the same time, we would set up other safeguards for patients. We would allow parents to keep children on their plan until age 26. We would prohibit insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits. We would protect people with existing conditions. And we would guarantee renewability for people already enrolled in a plan.
Second, help people buy coverage. Right now, those who get insurance through their employer get a lot of help from the tax code, while some people who buy insurance on their own, including potentially the millions of Americans the IRS put at risk, get no help at all. So we would offer those in the affected states a tax credit to buy insurance.
The credit would be “advanceable”—that is, you would get it when you needed it; you wouldn’t have to wait for tax season. It also would be “refundable”—that is, you would get the full amount no matter the size of your tax bill. And would adjust the size of the credit for age; the elderly, who face higher coverage costs, would get more support.
This is a common-sense path—but many members of Congress have proposed a lot of good ideas that deserve further consideration. For example, some have suggested giving states more flexibility to design their own solutions. Yet when House and Senate Republicans discuss this issue, we find that there is a great deal of consensus. We all want to take power away from Washington.
So here’s the bottom line: Under ObamaCare, government controls your choices. Under our proposal, you will. You’ll get to pick a plan that works for you. We look forward to building upon these ideas and working with our colleagues in the House and Senate, health-care experts and, most important, the American people, to put high-quality, affordable coverage within closer reach for all. And we’ll do it by putting Americans, not Washington, in the driver’s seat.
To learn more about the proposed plan, click here.
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On Wednesday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), will hold a legislative hearing entitled, “H.J. Res. 29, Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board relating to representation case procedures.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
In December 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) finalized its ambush election rule, which dramatically alters long-standing policies governing union elections. The rule significantly shortens the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date, limits the opportunity for a full and fair hearing of issues that may arise during the election proceedings, and grants union organizers greater access to employees’ personal information. As a result of these and other changes, the rule will undermine the right of employers to speak to employees, cripple the ability of employees to make informed decisions, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families.
Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate may vote on a joint resolution of disapproval to stop a federal agency from implementing a rule or regulation. H.J. Res. 29 would block the NLRB’s ambush election rule and safeguard election procedures that have served employees, employers, and unions well for decades. Wednesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine H.J. Res. 29 and the harmful consequences of the NLRB’s unprecedented re-write of union election procedures.
To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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HR5 is intended to replace NCLB and give states greater leeway in managing their schools. The bill is objectionable enough to the Obama administration that the president has threatened a veto. Despite the threat, the bill has also faced opposition from the right, and another reason for the delay was that House Republican leaders struggled to whip sufficient votes.
Much of the opposition has come from conservative groups, such as Heritage Action and Club for Growth, that simply believe the bill isn’t conservative enough on spending, testing mandates, and other issues to warrant support. However, the bill’s abrupt stall may have come from an obscure blog post on an anti-Common Core website that went absolutely bonkers recently.
The post’s author argues that while HR5 claims to reduce federal influence in education, it actually does the opposite. The law, it alleges, would make Common Core mandatory nationwide, abolish religious instruction at private schools, and even subject private schools to oversight from government inspectors.
The post quickly went viral, popping up on numerous other sites, especially those organizing opposition to Common Core.
A source familiar with events in the House said that the blog post had spurred a wave of calls to Congressmen, and helped fuel concerns about the bill. The calls were distressing, he said, because the law is anything but what the post alleges.
“It’s remarkable the amount of misinformation that has spread about this good, conservative education bill, especially when you consider most of the concerns that have been raised about federal involvement in classrooms is actually addressed in this bill,” the source told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Joe McTighe, executive director of the Council for American Private Education, said that his organization had received inquiries from several staffers on the Hill who were worried after being contacted by alarmed constituents.
“If you’re a parent, and you hear from a reliable source that Congress is trying to rip religion out of your private school, you’re gonna react,” McTighe told TheDCNF.
For all the concern, however, the blog post’s claims are egregiously false, according to HR5 supporters and private school activists. Among the blog’s false claims:
1. HR5 would make Common Core mandatory
This claim is based on a reading of Sec. 1001 of the bill, which states “The purpose of this title is to provide all children the opportunity to graduate high school prepared for postsecondary education or the workforce.”
Common Core has frequently been described as providing “college and career-ready standards” for schools to use. The blog post extrapolates from this to conclude that a state would technically be compelled to adopt Common Core in order to comply with the purpose of the act.
In fact, page 52 of the law explicitly states that no state can be compelled, coerced, or influenced into adopting Common Core, or any other multi-state set of standards. The law’s language is designed to abolish programs such as Race to the Top, which was used by the federal government to promote Common Core’s adoption.
2. HR5 would abolish religious instruction in schools
The blog post also suggested that HR would result in new mandates preventing religious schools from offering religious instruction in certain areas. The claim is based on language in the law stating that “educational services or other benefits, including materials and equipment, shall be secular, neutral and nonideological.”
According to the American Association of Christian Schools (AACS), however, this is actually a gross misinterpretation of language that has been in federal law for years and is intended to protect religious schools. The group issued a Facebook statement on Thursday attempting to stem the uproar against the bill.
“The section of the bill that refers to secular, neutral, and non-ideological services for private school students is addressing supplemental educational services (i.e. tutoring) provided by public schools that use federal funds to offer these services,” the group said. “[It does not] mean that education at religious schools can no longer be religious or faith-based. These same services and opportunities were also a part of NCLB.”
“The autonomy of private schools is protected, and our people know that,” Jamison Coppola, legislative director for AACS, told TheDCNF. While the group hasn’t endorsed the law, Coppola said, there is nothing in it that warrants objection from religious schools.
3. HR5 would foist government inspectors on private schools
Similar to the claim above, the blog post in question says that government-appointed ombudsmen will be used to inspect private schools:
“An ombudsman, if you haven’t heard the term, is a paid position, a role in which a person investigates and mediates official complaints for a living. This bill mandates that private schools will be assigned a state-appointed ombudsman to monitor private schools: ’The State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements.’”
According to McTighe, this claim is actually a total reversal of what the law is intended to do.
“Our organization actually wrote that language,” McTighe said. Ombudsmen are intended to make sure that public schools do not shortchange private schools in the provision of certain services, he said, rather than the other way around. Moreover, he said the language is nothing new. “That language has been there for 50 years.”
4. HR5 would undermine homeschooling rights.
Will Estrada, Director of Federal Relations with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said the group had been barraged with calls from parents fearful that HR5 would cause federal intervention against homeschoolers. That simply is not the case, he said.
“The bill is very clear that nothing in the bill applies to a home school,” Estrada told TheDCNF.
Estrada said that HSLDA is officially neutral on HR5, because it views the law as simply maintaining the status quo for homeschoolers.
“Our mission is not to make public schools better,” he said.