The following post is by Lexi Barrett, America Forward’s Policy Director.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the most far-reaching federal law affecting education across the country. ESEA was initially enacted in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” Upon signing the bill into law, President Johnson remarked that the law represented “a major new commitment of the federal government, to quality and equality in the schooling that we offer our young people.”
What is happening today?
Today, at 2:30 p.m. EST, the U.S. Senate will take up the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). All Senators will have the opportunity to offer amendments to alter the bill—either deleting, adding, or altering parts of it—before the bill receives a final vote for passage.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules will also consider the Student Success Act, the House’s bill to reauthorize ESEA, for a second time. The House had postponed further consideration of the bill when it was on the floor in late February after 43 amendments were discussed. The Rules Committee meeting this evening at 5:00 p.m. EST is an indication that floor consideration of the Student Success Act will likely resume later this week under a new rule allowing for additional amendments to be made in order.
How did we get here?
ESEA is currently seven years overdue for reauthorization, after last being updated in 2001 through the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Both the House and Senate have been pushing forward towards reauthorizing the law this year. In April, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously approved the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate bill to reauthorize ESEA. A summary of the bill produced by the Senate Committee may be viewed here.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives also began consideration of its ESEA reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act, but the bill was pulled without a final vote. The House is expected to bring its bill back for a final vote this week.
What will happen during Senate floor consideration?
In the Senate, Senators will have the opportunity to “file” amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act. “Filing” an amendment means officially submitting it for consideration, but does not guarantee the amendment will receive a vote. From this list of filed amendments, some amendments will be “offered” by Senators for debate and votes. Senators will continue to offer amendments until the Senate agrees to end debate and move to final passage or rejection of the bill.
In the House, as noted above, floor consideration of the bill will likely resume later this week under a new rule allowing for additional amendments to be made in order.
What names should I know?
- Senator Lamar Alexander – Republican from Tennessee and Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee. Worked with Sen. Patty Murray to develop the bipartisan Senate ESEA reauthorization bill, the Every Child Achieves Act.
- Senator Patty Murray – Democrat from Washington State and Ranking Member, or most Senior Minority Member of the Senate HELP Committee. Worked with Sen. Lamar Alexander to develop the bipartisan Senate ESEA reauthorization bill, the Every Child Achieves Act.
- Representative John Kline – Republican from Minnesota and Chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Author of the House ESEA reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act.
- Representative Bobby Scott – Democrat from Virginia and Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Opposed to the House Student Success Act. Offered Democrat substitute to the Student Success Act.
How can I follow along?
You can watch the Senate Floor activity here and the House Floor activity here.
Also, follow the America Forward Team on Twitter for live updates:
The Penn Hill Group will also be posting live updates from the markup throughout the week here.
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