This week: No Child Left Behind reform

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Both the House and Senate this week will be tackling reauthorizations of the No Child Left Behind education law.

House Republicans are reviving legislation that leadership yanked from the floor in February due to a lack of support. Conservatives balked at the initial version because they thought it preserved too much federal influence in education policy and didn’t offer enough flexibility for school districts.

Amendments regarding school choice and eliminating testing requirements were denied votes on the floor last time, which further frustrated conservative interest groups and lawmakers. The House Rules Committee will decide Tuesday evening which amendments will get votes this week.

{mosads}Across the Capitol, senators are expected to start debate Tuesday on the legislation, which passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this year after three days of debate and markups. 

The legislation was able to get unanimous support, bringing together lawmakers from across the political spectrum including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). 

But senators withdrew dozens of amendments during the committee process and are expecting to try again once the bill reaches the Senate floor. 

Warren said in April that she voted “yes” in the committee “in deference to … ongoing efforts” by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the ranking member, to move away from the legacy of No Child Left Behind. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said earlier this year that he would also push to include his proposal to give parents greater choice in selecting schools in the reform bill once it reaches the Senate floor. 

The 2002 law expired eight years ago, but Congress has not sent legislation to the president’s desk since then to renew it. 


The House will complete consideration of the $30.2 billion fiscal 2016 spending bill for the Department of Interior, likely on Wednesday.

Lawmakers debated three hours’ worth of amendments before leaving town for the July 4 recess last week, but more amendments remain. 

The measure cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget by 9 percent from the current enacted spending level. It also includes provisions to limit EPA rule-making on climate change and navigable waters.

It will be the seventh out of the 12 annual appropriations bills to pass the House this year. The House appears unlikely to finish them all before the August recess, given time constraints and Senate Democrats’ decision to block all spending bills that adhere to budget caps known as sequestration.

Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the week ahead:


Neither the House nor Senate will be in session.


The Senate will convene at 2:30 p.m. for leader remarks, before taking up the No Child Left Behind fix. At 5:30 p.m., senators will vote on Kara Farnandez Stoll’s nomination to be a U.S. circuit judge for the federal circuit. 

The House will meet at 2 p.m. for legislative business and debate three noncontroversial bills under suspension of the rules. Members have also been instructed to offer their amendments to the Interior appropriations bill on Tuesday. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.


The Senate will forge on with its version of the No Child Left Behind reauthorization.

The House may also begin consideration of its education bill after it completes work on the Interior spending measure. 


The Senate is expected to continue consideration of the No Child Left Behind legislation.

Depending on whether it has finished the Interior and education bills, the House will likely turn to legislation to reform Forest Service management of federal forests. Alternatively, the House may consider a measure to streamline the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of new drugs and provide funding for research at the National Institutes of Health.


The Senate is not expected to be in session. The House, meanwhile, will finish any of the remaining bills. A conference report reconciling the two chambers’ differences on a trade enforcement bill may also come up for a vote. 

Tags Elizabeth Warren Environmental Protection Agency Lamar Alexander No Child Left Behind Patty Murray Rand Paul Ted Cruz

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