UPDATE (10/30): On October 30, the Senate also passed the budget resolution that will set spending limits for the next two fiscal years. The bill is currently awaiting President Obama’s signature.
Yesterday, the House passed a bipartisan budget deal, by a 266 to 167 vote, that increases spending caps over the sequester on defense and domestic programs by $80 billion dollars over the next two years. With the spending levels raised, Congress has the opportunity to restore funding cuts for education and other non-defense discretionary programs in the upcoming appropriations process. In addition, the budget resolution would raise the debt limit until March 2017, leaving more leeway for Congress to take action on other important issues. 187 Democrats voted for the bill, while 79 Republicans voted Yes and 167 voted No. The bill will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to be considered quickly, as stated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). President Obama is expected to sign the deal when it reaches his desk.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan
After garnering enough support from all three major House Republican caucuses last week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) was elected today to serve as the 54th Speaker of the House. Opposing candidates for the Speakership were Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL-10) and former-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12). In his speech, Ryan vowed to “wipe the slate clean,” noting the “house is broken” and that members were not solving problems, but adding to them.
Both of these developments may help pave the way for Congress to continue its efforts to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Earlier this year, both chambers passed versions of a reauthorization bill, with the Senate version enumerating music and arts as core academic subjects. We remain optimistic that the next step in the process, where a conference committee from both houses would reconcile the House and Senate versions to create a single bill, may move forward. We will continue to provide updates as they occur.
Articles on these two latest developments in Congress:
Ronny Lau, Legislative Policy Advisor, Center for Advocacy, Policy, and Constituency Engagement, October 29, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)