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NCLB BREAKING FREE?: Key U.S. Senators Announce “Significant Progress” in Bipartisan Negotiations

The longer that the bill is delayed, the “more speculation that the bill won’t get a vote in the [House]."

On March 9, two key U.S. senators working on a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), announced “significant progress” in their bipartisan negotiations and said they expected to consider legislation in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) during the week of April 13.

“During the last several weeks, we have been working together to build the base for legislation to fix the problems with No Child Left Behind,” said Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee’s top Democrat. “We are making significant progress in our negotiations. We are aiming to consider and markup legislation to fix the law during the week of April 13.”

The statement came as Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives continue to seek support for the Student Success Act, their version of legislation to rewrite ESEA. Expected to pass the Student Success Act on February 27, House Republicans instead pulled the bill from consideration after statements from the Club for Growth and Heritage Foundation opposing the bill left conservative members wavering in their support. The bill is highly unlikely to receive any support from Democrats, meaning that House Republicans will need to pass the bill on their own.

On March 12, Politico, citing a GOP House leadership source, reported that the Student Success Act “isn’t currently in the House’s legislative plans for the rest of March.” It noted that the House’s calendar is not final and could still include votes on additional bills, but said that the longer that the bill is delayed, the “more speculation that the bill won’t get a vote in the [House].”

The Student Success Act has already received a veto threat from the White House, which said it “abdicates the historic federal role in elementary and secondary education of ensuring the educational progress of all of America’s students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, and students of color.”

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