Alexander Praises Passage of Deficit Reduction Act Conference Report

Bill Saves Nearly $40 Billion Over Five Years; Includes Important Provisions to

Posted on December 21, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today praised Senate passage of the Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005, which was approved in the Senate Thursday evening by a vote of 52 to 47. “The Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005 is the first comprehensive deficit reduction bill since 1997, and it’s going to save $39.7 billion over the next five years,” said Alexander. “This is an important first step toward containing the unsustainable growth of mandatory spending programs like Medicaid and putting us on the road to a balanced budget.” Alexander said the bill also includes important higher education reauthorization legislation provisions, including: provides $12.7 billion for Pell Grants for low-income students and makes Pell Grants available year-round; provides $8 billion in additional direct grant aid for 5.3 million low-income students; authorizes $3 billion to benefit low-income and middle-income borrowers in the student loan program by reducing loan origination fees, providing loan forgiveness for special education, math and science teachers who teach in low-income schools and allowing loan deferment of up to three years for active duty military personnel. “The higher education provisions in this bill are an important step toward providing the skills necessary for America to keep its competitive edge in the world,” said Alexander. “This bill achieves our deficit reduction targets while demonstrating a commitment to higher education.” The bill passed by a vote of 51-50, with the tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Cheney.