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 and stay tuned for more updates in the future:
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
What is happening today?
Today, April 16th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is expected to vote on passage of the bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Before that, the Committee will consider three final amendment beginning around 2:00 pm EST. You can follow the live feed here.
What happened on Wednesday?
Wednesday was an action-packed day in the HELP Committee, with Senators offering many more amendments for debate and votes. Of the 53 amendments discussed thus far, 26 amendments passed, 6 failed, 20 were withdrawn and 1 may still be voted on. Senators on both sides of the aisle offered praise for the way Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have led the markup, including the opportunity for debate and openness to amendments.
America Forward was excited to see passage of several key amendments, including:
- An amendment offered by Senator Bennet (D-CO) to expand innovative, evidence-based initiatives, like those supported by the Investing in Innovation Fund.
- An amendment offered by Senator Murkowski (R-AK) to continue a focus on expanded learning time initiatives through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
- An amendment offered by Senator Baldwin (D-WI) to fund technology and digital learning, which will support personalized learning for all students.
What comes next?
Assuming the HELP Committee votes to approve the bill this afternoon, there is still a long road to final passage. Chairman Alexander will be seeking time to bring the bill up for consideration by the full Senate, which he would like to see happen before Memorial Day. If that happens, there will be another process for other Senators to weigh in with additional amendments and many of the controversial amendments that did not receive votes this week will reappear.
The House also must pass a bill for ESEA to move forward. On that side of the Capitol, House Republicans brought their own version of ESEA up earlier this year but were unable to secure the votes they needed and pulled 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 hash out differences and emerge with a final product which must be approved again by the House and the Senate. And, of course, the President has to sign the final bill into law.
How can I follow along?
The Penn Hill Group will also be posting live updates from the markup throughout the week here.