House Dems Dissatisfied with House GOP Rules

Rules Comm stifles debate on HOPE
House Dems Dissatisfied with House GOP Rules

(Atlanta, Ga.) – March 1, 2011 – Today, Republican leaders in the House Rules Committee voted against protecting HOPE for all Georgians by rejecting six amendments intended to soften the blow of HOPE reform.

Those measures would have provided that military spouses, required to travel and serving active duty, be included in HOPE; would have allowed continued funding for the scholarship shortfall reserve loan fund to pay for tuition, room and board shortfalls through a low-interest loan; and, allow students already receiving HOPE in the 2010 – 2011 academic school year to be grandfathered into the scholarship program.

“When we make commitments to our children, we must keep them,” said Rep. Carolyn Hugley, Democratic Caucus Whip. “We simply cannot fathom pushing out the children already engaged in the program.”

House Bill 326, the administration’s HOPE bill, was added today to a supplemental House Rules calendar in order for the measure to be heard on the House Floor today. However, under new GOP rules, the only modifications allowed on the bill were allowed in the Rules Committee – not on the Floor.

“Closing off debate on such an important matter is never a wise idea,” said Rep. Calvin Smyre, chairman emeritus of the House Democratic Caucus. “Because of the magnitude of this program, the far-reaching impact of HOPE for all Georgians, and because of our economy, we simply must provide families more time to plan and prepare. We are doing our best to work with the Governor’s office, which has indicated a willingness to continue the dialogue. Time is of the essence.”

HOPE is a program originally designed by Democrats in 1993. House Democrats will oppose any changes to any of the HOPE programming that would reduce the educational opportunities for Georgia’s students, workers returning to school and those seeking technical skills training.

“We are working hard to ensure that one of the finest programs ever advanced in the State of Georgia by Democrats remains available and accessible for generations to come. That is our commitment to our allies and to our constituents,” said Rep. Brian Thomas, chairman of the Minority Caucus.