Federal Legislative Updates
News from Capitol Hill. . .
November 21, 2014
President Obama puts family first to fix broken immigration system
Using his executive authority to expand DACA, President Obama is taking new steps to fix our nation’s broken immigration system that will allow up to five million undocumented immigrants, including the parents of children who are U.S. citizens, to register to stay in the United States and pay their fair share of taxes. “We know that this decision will shield from deportation families seeking to stay together, add to the rich and robust cultural tapestry of our country, contribute to our economy, and pursue the American dream,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “That’s why we welcome the president’s proposal. Since its inception two years ago, DACA has kept an estimated 700,000 students and their families together. Expanding DACA will lift the cloud of deportation from the lives of many more aspiring Americans across the nation.”
Proposed $1.5 billion hike for E-Rate would help communities most in need
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced this week that the FCC will vote December 11 on increased funding for the E-Rate program as educators across the nation have urged. Funding has been capped since the program was created in 1996 and would go from $2.4 billion to close to $4 billion per year. “The FCC announcement is good for America’s students and makes for smart public policy,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Increasing the funding level of the E-Rate program will continue to bring broadband to the communities that need it the most—students and educators in urban, rural and low-density populated areas. More to the point, investing now in the E-Rate Program to help students will pay off in the long run.”
Tell Congress to prioritize funding for students most in need
With less than three weeks until the lame-duck Congress is scheduled to adjourn, a budget deal remains elusive—some Republicans are calling instead for using the funding measure to try to stymie President Obama’s immigration action. Another funding bill must be passed by December 11, when the current short-term fix, called a “continuing resolution,” runs out. Weigh in! Tell Congress to pass a full-year funding bill, called an “omnibus,” and prioritize programs like Title I and IDEA that target the students most in need, including children in poverty and students with disabilities.
TAKE ACTION TODAY! Tell Congress to pass a full-year funding bill and prioritize programs for students most in need
Tax assistance for educators and schools up for renewal
Unfinished business addressed during the lame-duck session may also include two tax provisions of particular significance to students and educators: the $250 educator tax deduction, which helps cover out-of-pocket costs of materials and supplies students need to succeed, and the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) program, which helps disadvantaged communities finance school renovations, repairs, and investments in technology. Both may be renewed as part of a package of more than 50 expired tax provisions, called “tax extenders.”
TAKE ACTION TODAY! Urge Congress to renew the educator tax deduction and QZAB program
Senate passes CCDBG reauthorization, President signs it into law
The Senate passed the bipartisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which helps make child care affordable for low-income families, by a vote of 88-1 on November 17 and President Obama signed it into law on November 19.
Cheers and Jeers
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) for their letter to Senator Obama urging him to use his “well-established” executive powers to “improve as much of the immigration system as you can” and vowing to “support changes to keep families together while continuing to enforce our immigration laws in a way that protects our national security and public safety.”
Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) for introducing the NEA-supported resolution in honor of American Education Week in the Senate, and Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Mark Takano (D-CA) for introducing it in the House.
Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC) for concurring with the House and leading the final stage of the historic bipartisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which was nearly 20 years in the making.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) for being the only senator to vote “no” this week when the Senate passed CCDBG.
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for describing the aspiring Americans helped by President Obama’s executive order as “millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language.”