Senate Passes Education Reform Legislation, House Interior Bill Remains Stalled

From: Isaac Brown, Legislative Counsel
Vol. 15:11

July 17, 2015

Yesterday, the Senate passed with bipartisan support (81-17) the Every Child Achieves Act, which would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the nation’s most substantive federal law overseeing public education. The vote comes one week after the House of Representatives passed its own version of the bill, the Student Success Act.

The bill passed in the Senate was carefully crafted and negotiated by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee’s top Democrat. It includes several provisions supported by NASAA, including preservation of the arts as a core academic subject and eligibility of the arts in preschool education funding as well as after-school initiatives.

The House and Senate are expected now to go to conference to negotiate the differences between their bills. The differences in the approaches being taken by the two chambers are significant for the arts: the House act eliminates a federal definition of core academic subjects, which is where arts education has been referenced as an eligible Title I expenditure in the past. Depending on how negotiations proceed, each chamber could vote on a compromise bill in the fall.

We also want to note that fiscal year 2016 Interior Appropriations bill, which includes the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts and appeared headed for passage last week, has stalled due to disagreements with portions of the legislation unrelated to the arts endowment. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and let you know if and when the bill comes up again for a vote.