This week marks the beginning of new energy and action around the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). For more information check out some of our previous posts:
America Forward Hard at Work on ESEA
America Forward's Quick Reference ESEA Guide
America Forward's Senate ESEA Markup Preview
America Forward’s Wednesday ESEA Update
America Forward's Thursday ESEA Update
What is the current status of ESEA Reauthorization?
Yesterday afternoon (April 16th) the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Before that, the Committee wrapped up with votes on a final set of amendments. In total, over three days the HELP Committee debated 58 amendments. Of those, 29 amendments passed, 8 failed and 21 were withdrawn.
Even though the HELP Committee passed the bill unanimously, that does not mean that all members of the Committee support all aspects of the bill or will even vote for it in future stages of the legislative process. The unanimous vote simply means that all Senators on the Committee believe the bill should receive debate by the full Senate.
What comes next?
Now that the Senate HELP Committee has approved the Every Child Achieves Act, the bill is ready to be debated by the full United States Senate. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has announced that he would like to see happen before Memorial Day. Between now and consideration on the Senate floor, Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will continue to work with Senators to further shape the bill. On the Senate floor, the Every Child Achieves Act will see another round of debate and amendments, and many of the more controversial amendments that did not receive votes in Committee will be brought back for debate and votes.
The House also must pass an ESEA bill for reauthorization to move forward. House Republicans brought their own version of ESEA up earlier this year but ultimately withdrew the bill before a final vote.
Assuming the House and Senate both pass versions of ESEA, those bills will have to be merged through a conference process that brings key members of both chambers together to agree upon a final product which must be approved again by the House and the Senate before being sent to the President for signature or veto.
America Forward will continue to advocate for the inclusion of our collective priorities in ESEA reauthorization legislation. Please continue to follow us on Twitter or sign up for our America Forward Insider Email Newsletter to get all of the latest news on the ESEA reauthorization process and to learn more about the work we are doing in a number of other policy areas.