Senate approves No Child Left Behind rewrite, sending legislation to White House
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The Senate on Wednesday passed an overhaul of the George W. Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, sending the measure to President Obama's desk. 

Senators approved the conference report worked out by House and Senate negotiators in a 85-12 vote — eight years after the original law expired. The House passed the legislation in an overwhelming vote last week. 

The White House said that Obama will sign the legislation Thursday morning. 
 
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All 12 votes against the bill came from Republicans, who argued the legislation didn't go far enough. The "no" votes included Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRepublicans need to stop Joe Biden's progressive assault on America Fauci fatigue sets in as top doc sows doubt in vaccine effectiveness Republican legislators target private sector election grants MORE (Ky.), a presidential candidate.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz raises .3 million in first quarter of 2021 Boehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump's claims of stolen election a 'sad moment in American history' MORE (R-Texas), another presidential candidate, missed the vote but made his opposition clear in a statement. 

"In many ways, the conference report was worse than the original Senate bill — removing the few good provisions from the House bill that would have allowed some Title I portability for low-income students as well as a parental opt-out from onerous federal accountability standards," he said in a statement ahead of the vote. "The American people expect the Republican majority to do better."

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioJon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left Exclusive: GOP senators seek FBI investigation into Biden Pentagon nominee MORE (R-Fla.), also missed the vote, while Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP lawmaker 'encouraged' by Biden's Afghanistan strategy Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Graham: 'A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous' MORE (R-S.C.) voted "yes." Both are running for president.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Congress can protect sacred Oak Flat in Arizona from mining project MORE (I-Vt.), who is challenging party front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Republican legislators target private sector election grants How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 MORE for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed the vote.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' MORE (R-Ky.) suggested that passing the legislation after years of failing to agree to a deal is the latest example of how the upper chamber is "working" under a Republican majority. 

“Finding a serious replacement for No Child Left Behind eluded Washington for years. Today it will become another bipartisan achievement for our country," he said. "The new Congress and the new Senate have had a habit this year of turning third rails into bipartisan achievements."

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt's retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle MORE (R-Tenn.) aimed to pressure his Republican colleagues to back the legislation, saying earlier Wednesday that voting no "is saying 'I like the national school board.'"

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWhite House races clock to beat GOP attacks Harry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' The Memo: Biden seeks a secret weapon — GOP voters MORE (D-Nev.) suggested that while the legislation is needed, Republicans were to blame for the years of inaction on No Child Left Behind. 

"I know that some may think this is amusing but it's not. It's too serious," he said. "When my Republican colleagues take victory laps on legislation they filibustered last Congress, that's not a laughing matter."

Despite the partisan bickering ahead of Wednesday's vote, the rewrite brought together liberal Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenForgiving K in school loans would free 36 million student borrowers from debt: data IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  MORE (Mass.) and stalwart Republicans such as Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Application portal for venue grants down for five days with no updates Democrats work to pick up GOP support on anti-Asian hate crimes bill MORE (Texas).

The legislation will reduce the federal government's oversight in the public school system by transferring more decision-making power back to state and local governments. 

While the measure keeps annual reading and math testing requirements for grades three through eight, high school students would only have to undergo the testing once.

The legislation would prevent the federal government from requiring or incentivizing states to adopt any set of education standards such as Common Core, which has drawn strong pushback from Republican lawmakers and governors. 

Alexander said that the legislation would help move away from a "national school board" and is the "single biggest step toward local control in 25 years." 

The legislation has also gained wide praise from dozens of outside groups. Civil rights advocates, however, have expressed concern that the states being able to opt out of No Child Left Behind could reduce resources for disadvantaged students. 

Carmel Martin, the executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, said that the legislation "strikes a balance between accountability for serving all students and closing achievement gaps with flexibility to allow state and local actors to meet local needs."