Portman: Pre-K, community college not 'typically' a government responsibility

Portman: Pre-K, community college not 'typically' a government responsibility
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill Strengthen CBP regulations to reduce opioid deaths House panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill MORE (R-Ohio) said Sunday that it was not "typically" the responsibility of the federal government to provide pre-kindergarten or community college access to Americans, while leaving open the possibility of compromise around "incentives" for such issues.

In an interview with NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddGOP divided over expected Cheney ouster Sunday shows - White House COVID-19 response coordinator says US is 'turning the corner' Hogan: GOP devolving into 'circular firing squad' with Cheney ouster MORE on "Meet the Press," Portman was asked whether he supported the Biden administration's plan to "essentially add four years" of guaranteed education by providing universal pre-kindergarten funding as well as two years of community college.

"Typically, it is not a federal government responsibility. As you know, feds probably pay about 6 or 7 percent of K-12 education," Portman said.

"I think we can provide some incentives for it. Pre-K makes sense," Portman said.

"I'm a big fan of what community colleges do," he continued, while adding that the bill should focus more on skills training or trade schools, rather than community colleges.

"Let's close the skills gap," he added. "To me, that would be the most effective use of that funding."

Portman's comments come as Democrats are seeking Republican compromise on a second piece of legislation being pushed by the White House as part of its infrastructure reform package, the second half of which would focus on funding programs such as child care, universal Pre-K, and job training services.

The White House has argued that the packages, totaling $2.3 trillion, are necessary investments for future economic growth as the U.S. continues to recover from a major economic recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats have left open the possibility of passing the legislation through budget reconciliation, while the White House and some conservative Democrats left open the possibility of compromise with Republicans on the issue.