Two weeks after Sen. Lamar Alexander warned the Education Department not to trample on Congress’s authority in pursuing changes in federal rules governing accreditation, leaders in the House of Representatives used a legislative procedure to send a similarly direct message.
Tucked into a 2008 spending bill for the Education Department and other agencies that a House subcommittee passed Thursday afternoon (see related article here) was a provision that would prohibit the department from using any of its funds to “promulgate, implement or enforce” new federal regulations related to accreditation. The provision, which is called a “limitation” under House rules, is a time-honored tactic used by members of Congressional appropriations committees to stop federal agencies from taking regulatory or other actions that the lawmakers oppose.
The provision was included at the urging of Rep. David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who is chairman of the Appropriations Committee and of its Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. The committee’s staff director, who as is Congressional standard practice asked not to have her name used, said that the provision was meant to express “bipartisan concern about what the department is doing, and that the department may be exceeding its authority.”
Is that a kind way to say, abuse of power?