February 7, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.J. Res. 58, the joint resolution of disapproval of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to teacher preparation programs.

   This resolution would not only block the rule in question, but according to the rules of the CRA, it would tie the hands of this and of any future administration from re-regulating the provisions until a successful reauthorization of the Higher Education Act might take place.

   Mr. Speaker, this rule in question provides clarity to States on how to increase teacher preparation program quality, transparency, and the equitable distribution of well-prepared teachers. It was promulgated to enable compliance with the statutory provision included in the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

   According to a study by the Education Schools Project, more than 60 percent of new teachers feel unprepared to enter the classroom. We also know that disadvantaged students are taught disproportionately by new, inexperienced, and underprepared teachers. Congress sought to address this in the HEA reauthorization through the inclusion of requirements that are clarified by this regulation. Congress clearly intended for these equity-focused provisions to be meaningfully implemented; however, absent Federal regulation, the bipartisan intent of Congress has gone unfulfilled.

   Despite statements made by many on the other side of the aisle, the Department of Education did engage in extensive consultation with stakeholders and the public in drafting and then in finalizing this rule. The draft

   rule put forward in 2014 lacked the appropriate flexibility and was met with overwhelming resistance. Through an extended comment period, the Department worked for more than 2 years to revise the rule and produce a final rule with considerably more flexibility for States and institutions.

   Regardless of how flexible the rule is or not, I believe that, upon careful review of the regulation and the statutory provisions, the final rule is clearly within the scope of the agency's regulatory authority. Whether one thinks the rule is perfect or flawed, the substance of the final rule is reasonable and is clarifying an interpretation of how to comply with statutory requirements.

   It is now 2017. Federal requirements to improve teacher preparation program quality and transparency have gone largely unfulfilled since the 2008 reauthorization. In such an instance, it is well within the purview of the implementing agency to regulate and more clearly interpret statutory requirements to prompt meaningful compliance and inform Congress and the agency in subsequent reauthorizations.

   The executive overreach or illegality of a rule and the disagreement with the substance of the rule are not two sides of the same coin. Republicans now control the executive branch. President Trump has administrative tools at his disposal to revise or to completely rewrite this regulation. It is clear, based on the history of the implementation of these provisions, that regulatory clarity is necessary. The responsible approach would be to utilize those tools to improve the regulation.

   In the history of the Congressional Review Act, Congress has only used it once to disapprove a regulation. Instead of engaging in the hard work of governing by revising the teacher preparation rule, my colleagues have resorted to this act of repealing yet another rule that is meant to support our Nation's families and children. It is unnecessary, and we must recommit to doing the right thing for those whom we serve.

   I urge my colleagues to reject this resolution.