Federal Legislative Updates
News from Capitol Hill. . .
June 14, 2013
ONE ESEA REAUTHORIZATION MARKUP DOWN, ONE TO GO: TELL CONGRESS TO GET IT RIGHT
Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is moving. This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved Chairman Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) reauthorization bill, the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (S. 1094), on a 12-10 party-line vote. NEA urged the committee to keep equity and fairness front and center, along with shared responsibility for student success, and to adopt amendments that help achieve that goal and reject those that do not. NEA took no position on the base bill, finding some promising improvements in it but too many areas still needing work. There is no immediate timeline for the bill to reach the Senate floor.
On June 19, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will markup its version of ESEA reauthorization, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) put forward by Chairman John Kline (R-MN). Like the Senate bill, the House version is expected to emerge from a partisan markup. House Republican leadership has indicated it plans to take up its ESEA measure on the House floor in July.
NEA is urging Congress to provide flexibility, empower educators, and focus on ESEA’s original promise of equity and fairness for students. That message resonates powerfully, especially when it comes from those who know best: classroom teachers and education support professionals.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
- E-mail Congress—Tell your Senator and Representatives to get ESEA reauthorization right.
URGE THE SENATE TO PASS IMMIGRATION REFORM, TREAT STUDENTS FAIRLY
The Senate voted 82-15 this week to begin debating the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744)—a watershed moment that paves the way for fierce battles over amendments before a final vote, which leadership hopes to hold before the July recess. Last week, more than 5,000 educators participated in a telephone town hall to hear the latest news on immigration reform and to discuss maintaining their hard-won momentum.
NEA sent a letter encouraging Senators to act swiftly and pass S. 744, which includes NEA’s priorities for students and their families:
- A pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans
- Ensuring and promoting family unity
- Inclusion of the DREAM Act, which provides an expedited, five-year path to citizenship for eligible high school graduates
We also continue advocating adoption of a “Little DREAMers” amendment by Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT), which puts younger, eligible children on the expedited, five-year path to citizenship.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
- Email or call 1-866-632-6057—Tell Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the Little DREAMers amendment
- Sign the petition — Students and their families deserve fair immigration reform now
TELL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO SUPPORT, CO-SPONSOR BILL REPEALING GPO/WEP PENALTIES
The bipartisan Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 (H.R. 1795/S. 896), recently introduced in both the House and the Senate, would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO), which reduces public employees’ Social Security spousal or survivor benefits by two-thirds of their public pension, and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which reduces the earned Social Security benefits of an individual who also receives a public pension from a job not covered by Social Security. GPO and WEP are unfair—they deprive educators and other public employees of Social Security benefits they have earned.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
- E-mail Congress—Urge your Senators and Representative to support and co-sponsor the Social Security Fairness Act of 2013.
CHEERS AND JEERS
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for her amendment to the Senate HELP Committee ESEA reauthorization bill to ensure that charter schools are held to the same accountability standards as traditional public schools. Unfortunately, she was forced to withdraw the amendment due to concerns raised by charter school operators.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) for his amendment to ESEA to allow parents and educators to determine appropriate standards and assessments for students with disabilities. The Committee rejected the amendment on a vote of 9-12.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) for his amendment to ESEA to prioritize Title II formula funds to better direct them toward students in poverty. The Committee rejected the amendment on a vote of 8-14.
All Senate HELP Committee Democrats and Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) for opposing a private school voucher amendment to ESEA offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). The amendment failed on a vote of 8-14.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for proposing a private school voucher amendment to the Senate HELP Committee’s ESEA bill. His amendment failed on a vote of 8-14.
|House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who is calling for another round of spending cuts beyond the sequester. “I believe that if we’re going to increase the debt limit, there ought to be cuts and reforms in place that are greater than the increase in the debt limit,” Boehner said June 11 in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”|
|Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for erecting a roadblock to moving fiscal year 2014 appropriations bills by vowing to oppose funding levels unless they continue the devastating sequester.|