Congressman Bill Pascrell

Representing the 9th District of NEW JERSEY

College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008

Jul 31, 2008
Floor Speech


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   Mr. PASCRELL. I rise today in strong support for the rule for the conference report on the Higher Education Opportunity Act, and I thank Chairwoman Slaughter and Congresswoman Matsui for bringing this rule to the floor. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon on this great achievement.

   H.R. 4137 is a comprehensive bipartisan bill that will reauthorize the Higher Education Act while addressing concerns about the cost of education, restoring integrity and accountability to student loan programs, and expanding college access and support for low-income and minority students.

   I greatly appreciate that H.R. 4137 includes a version of legislation which we've worked and I've worked on for about 6 years, the Campus Fire Safety Right To Know Act. I became involved in this issue of campus fire safety after experiencing the horrible aftermath of a catastrophic fire at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, in 2000. That fire killed three young freshman and wounded 58 other students in a dorm on campus.

   The campus fire safety reporting requirement in H.R. 4137 mandates that colleges and universities provide prospective and current students and parents with a report on the school's campus safety policies and records.

   Educating students about fire safety during their time in school will have a strong impact on the choices they make in the future. If we can influence what they learn, we can create a more fire-safe generation for tomorrow and potentially save thousands of lives.

   Mr. Speaker, I want to once again state my strong support for the rule and urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4131. As the first member of my family to attend college, I applaud the chairman and the ranking member for their dedication to making the dream of a college education a reality for so many Americans who otherwise would not have had that chance.