September 14, 2009

Harkin Announced as Senate Education Committee Chair
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On September 9, it was announced that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) would assume leadership of the powerful Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The position became vacant after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy last month.

In an official statement, Sen. Harkin said:

"I was honored to accept the chairmanship of the Senate HELP Committee. To serve in this capacity is to carry on the legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy, who dedicated his life to ensuring that our economy works for all Americans, guaranteeing every child the opportunity to pursue a quality education and, of course, the cause of his life: access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

There had been speculation that the committee chair would go to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who has been leading the committee work on health care, but due to restrictions on the number of committee chairmanships any individual senator can hold, Sen. Dodd elected to stay as chair of the Senate Banking Committee. Upon assuming the chair of the HELP Committee, Sen. Harkin will have to leave his leadership post on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

Sen. Harkin will now have leadership over both the education and workforce development authorizing legislation handled by the HELP Committee, such as the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act, and the funding of all education and workforce programs through his role as chair of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

In past years, Sen. Harkin has been a key CTE supporter, receiving the ACTE Policymaker of the Year award in 2007. He was active in the 2006 Perkins reauthorization and has been instrumental in restoring proposed cuts to Perkins funding. He will now be in an even more critical position to impact policy affecting CTE.

CTE Policy Watch Blog

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