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Congressman Bobby Scott

Representing the 3rd District of Virginia

ON DEFEATING THE PREVIOUS QUESTION IN ORDER TO CONSIDER THE REBUILD AMERICA'S SCHOOLS ACT

June 27, 2017
Floor Statements

   Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis) for proposing this amendment.

   The Rebuild America's Schools Act would help ensure that each of our Nation's 50 million public school students, taught by 3 million teachers, will have access to safe, healthy, and high-quality learning facilities and internet access sufficient for digital learning in the classroom.

   This bold proposal would create nearly 2 million jobs, improve student learning, and revitalize under-resourced communities.

   The Rebuild America's Schools Act is a win for students, families, workers, and the economy; and any responsible infrastructure proposal put forth by Congress should include a bold investment in our Nation's public schools.

   Mr. Speaker, this bill was introduced on the 63rd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education because, despite the promise of Brown, our public school facilities remain largely separate and woefully unequal.

   Last year, on the 62nd anniversary of Brown, Ranking Member Conyers and I unveiled the findings of a GAO report that found that more students are attending schools highly segregated by race and class.

   Now, that most recent GAO report examining the state of our public schools' infrastructure saw that low-income and minority students are served by poor and inadequate school facilities.

   If we are to fully achieve the promise of Brown, then no child should remain in a classroom with a leaking roof or a broken heating system. All students should have equitable access to science labs or spaces for high-quality career and technical educational programs.

   Mr. Speaker, 12 States do not invest any money in capital construction projects in public schools, leaving responsibility of ensuring high-quality classrooms up to localities and local property taxes, which virtually guarantees inequitable funding between high- and low-income districts.

   This bill targets Federal funding for school infrastructure to districts and school buildings with the

   greatest need for improvement to their physical and digital infrastructure, which would be an important step in fulfilling the promise of Brown.

   All too often, when Congress talks about infrastructure investment, we speak only about investments in roads, bridges, and other public buildings. Public schools are often left out of the conversation, but schools must be part of that conversation on infrastructure.

   The Rebuild America's Schools Act will ensure safe drinking water in schools, prevent instructional materials like textbooks from being ruined as a result of broken heating and air-conditioning systems, and improve air quality that students breathe in the schools. It will bring access to digital learning for more than 11 million students in nearly 20,000 schools who do not already have it. Finally, the bill would mean high-quality jobs for nearly 2 million pipefitters, construction workers, and other hardworking Americans.

   Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to defeat the previous question so we can debate and pass the Rebuild America's Schools Act. We owe it to America's students and hardworking families.