The mostly Democratic bill was sponsored by House Education & the Workforce Committee ranking member George Miller (D-Calif.). He and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), the lone Republican sponsor of the bill, agreed that the legislation is needed in light of a government report that found not all states are running these background checks.
That has led to sexual abuse and violence against students by school employees.
"We should be doing everything we can to prevent these abuses," Miller said. "The very fundamental place to start is to not employ predators in our schools in the first place."
Rokita cited a Government Accountability Office report from 2010 that found 15 people with criminal backgrounds were hired as teachers or other school workers, even though 11 of them had previously targeted children.
"According to the report, states don't consistently perform pre-employment background checks, and when they do conduct these checks, they're not always fingerprinted or connected to the national criminal database," he said.
House GOP leaders brought up the bill under a suspension of House rules, a process normally reserved for non-controversial legislation. House passage sends the bill to the Senate, which is out this week.