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 PaulFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries Up next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (Ky.), a presidential candidate.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade 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 RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.), also missed the vote, while Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate Graham says he has COVID-19 'breakthrough' infection Graham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar MORE (R-S.C.) voted "yes." Both are running for president.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries This week: Senate starts infrastructure sprint Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE (I-Vt.), who is challenging party front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive things to watch in two Ohio special election primaries Clintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections MORE for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed the vote.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Pelosi struggle with end of eviction ban | Trump attorney says he will fight release of tax returns Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate McConnell warns Democrats against 'artificial timeline' for infrastructure deal 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 AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain 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 seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Lobbying world Warner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights 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 WarrenAmerica's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet California Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans MORE (Mass.) and stalwart Republicans such as Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on 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."