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Homecoming on Capitol Hill

March 21, 2006

For much of the latter half of the 1990s, Victor F. Klatt III and Sally L. Stroup had as big a hand in shaping federal higher education policy as anyone. As top aides to the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, Klatt and Stroup helped lawmakers shepherd the 1998 extension of the Higher Education Act through Congress, developing as they went a reputation for fair mindedness -- even as they occasionally took colleges to task.

As is typical in Washington policy circles, Klatt and Stroup both eventually moved on from Capitol Hill – Klatt to Van Scoyoc Associates, a firm that lobbies on behalf of colleges and other groups, and Stroup to the Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix) and, eventually, to her current post as assistant secretary for postsecondary education, the top higher education job in the Bush administration.

Now, they’re heading back to the Hill, filling the top two positions on the staff being put together by Rep. Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Calif.), the new chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee. They will oversee the committee’s work as it seeks to push the rest of the latest revision of the Higher Education Act through Congress and continue its work on the Workforce Investment Act reauthorization, among other efforts. Committee officials have talked of having a version of the higher ed bill on the House floor as early as next week.

“Vic and Sally are ideal leaders to head up our talented committee team,” said McKeon. “Their experience and knowledge on the matters our panel deals with each and every day will prove incredibly valuable. I’m pleased they’ve chosen to return to the committee after their years of past service, and I’m grateful to have them by my side as I take on my responsibilities as chairman.”

Neither Klatt, a vice president at Van Scoyoc who will become the committee’s staff director, nor Stroup, who will be its deputy director, could be reached for comment.

But college lobbyists praised the pair. Becky Timmons, director of government relations at the American Council on Education, described Klatt and Stroup as the foundation of an experienced and expert “dream team” that McKeon was building. “It’s a really impressive gathering back of people who are really seasoned, both in terms of substantive knowledge and knowledge about how the House operates,” she said.

What Klatt and Stroup have in common is that they are “incredibly fair minded” and “bring a sense of humor” to their work, Timmons said. “They may think you’re wacky, but they’re going to give you time and a chance to make your case. They don’t bring a negative bias to their interactions with us.”

 

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