House GOP delays vote on education bill

House GOP leaders on Friday delayed a vote on a major rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act that would give states more authority over education policy instead of the federal government.

The vote count for the GOP’s No Child Left Behind reauthorization has appeared shaky over the last two days due to opposition from conservative groups who don’t want to allow the federal government to increase its presence in education policy. Two influential conservative groups, Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, are urging lawmakers to vote against the bill.

{mosads}Many conservatives are frustrated after amendments allowing states to opt out of No Child Left Behind and do away with federal testing requirements weren’t allowed votes on the House floor. Another amendment proposed by Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) to include private schools as an option for school choice didn’t receive a vote either.

Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in a statement that any No Child Left Behind rewrite bill should allow states to opt out.

“Not only would that type of bill draw a clear contrast with the progressives’ failed big-government education agenda, but it would remove archaic obstacles that have prevented true opportunity for all,” Needham said.

The House was originally scheduled to finish debating the more than 40 amendments to the bill Friday afternoon and vote on final passage. But the House went into recess subject to call of the chair upon completion of amendment debate.

The latest floor guidance from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) office sent to members and staff does not mention the education measure. That suggests the measure will be left behind amid the DHS funding debate.

House Republicans are also stymied by votes to pass a three-week stopgap bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security past midnight Friday. Many conservatives refuse to vote for any spending bill that doesn’t revoke President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The education measure is the latest in a series of bills that have been pulled from the House floor in the first two months of the new GOP Congress. Over the last several weeks, House GOP leaders have also yanked legislation regarding border security and abortion restrictions due to splintered opposition

No Child Left Behind, which became law in 2002, expired eight years ago. Congress has been unable to move a reauthorization of the law since then.

The Obama administration has been issuing No Child Left Behind waivers since 2011 after governors and school districts insisted the requirements were unrealistic.

The House passed similar legislation in July 2013, but it never received action in the Senate controlled by Democrats at the time.

The latest version of the House GOP’s No Child Left Behind rewrite reduces the federal government’s role in education by giving states and local school districts more discretion over academic standards and testing.

In addition, the legislation would prohibit the Department of Education from forcing states and school districts to adopt Common Core standards, which establish English and math knowledge standards for all grade levels. 

It remains unclear if and when the legislation will receive further floor action.

Republicans argue that states and localities are better equipped to establish academic standards to fit students’ needs.

“Success in school should be determined by those who teach inside our classrooms, by administrators who understand the challenges facing their communities, by parents who know better than anyone the needs of their children. If every child is going to receive a quality education, then we need to place less faith – less faith – in the Secretary of Education and more faith in parents, teachers, and state and local leaders,” said House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), a co-author of the bill.

But Democrats warned that federal funding is necessary to ensure that low-income school districts have enough resources. Most school systems are funded by real estate taxes, meaning that wealthier areas have more resources while regions at the other end of the income spectrum receive less.

“As a result, Congress has a longstanding policy to target our limited federal funding to schools and students who get left behind in an unequal system,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.).

This story was updated at 3:35 p.m.

Tags Bobby Scott No Child Left Behind
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