Day 5 of debate on the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015” (S. 1177) is currently wrapping up — and it’s been another busy one. With Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) having raised the chamber’s collective blood pressure by filing for cloture on the bill earlier than expected (limiting time on the floor to a maximum of 30 additional hours before requiring a final vote), Senate Minority Leader Reid (D-NV) started the day by pushing back hard, saying that there were many amendments (mostly sponsored by Democrats) still to be considered, and that he would move to block cloture. All told, the Senate still needs to review more than 20 amendments and take a final vote by either tomorrow or Thursday, in order to keep both parties’ leadership happy.
In an effort to stay on schedule, HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made multiple requests today that all remaining amendments be “germane to the bill,” and, as such, controversial amendments focusing on immigration and sexual violence were subsequently withdrawn by their sponsors. The “Strong Start for America” early childhood education amendment proposed by Senator Casey (D-PA), may not make the final cut either, with Chairman Alexander insisting that the bill’s revised corporate taxes to fund initiatives model is a nonstarter for Finance Committee Chairman Hatch (R-UT). The Chairman has articulated that the amendment in its current form constitutes a deal breaker for floor consideration, and has stated that it will remain sidelined, unless key language is changed. Finally, Senator Burr (R-NC) offered an impassioned defense of his still expected controversial amendment to revise the Title I funding formula in support of poor rural states. More on that tomorrow.
Here is a complete list of amendments voted on today:
- Scott (R-SC) Amendment to have Title I funds “follow” students to their schools of choice (NOT AGREED TO)
- Booker (D-NJ) Amendment requiring reporting of statistics on graduation rates of homeless students (AGREED TO)
- Isakson (R-GA) Amendment informing parents about policies and procedures for opting out of standardized tests (AGREED TO)
- Bennet (D-CO) Amendment limiting amount of time spent on national testing (AGREED TO)
- Lee (R-UT) Amendment requiring states to allow students to opt out of tests (NOT AGREED TO)
- Franken (D-MN) Amendment to ban bullying of LGBT or perceived LGBT students (NOT AGREED TO)
Clearly missing from this list is the Opportunity Dashboard of Core Resources Amendment, which could be used to help track access to core academic subjects (including music and arts). You can still send a letter in support of that bill by clicking here. With just two days left on leadership’s calendar to address the “Every Child Achieves Act 2015,” and a range of amendments yet to be voted on, our staff will continue to monitor and report on new developments.
Christopher Woodside, NAfME Assistant Executive Director, 14 July 2015. © National Association for Music Education.