U.S. House Passes Elementary and Secondary Education Act; Senate Still at Work

elementary education

It’s been a huge day for congressional Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) negotiations. The United States Senate and House of Representatives each spent the bulk of their floor time debating their respective legislative packages.


The Senate considered a variety of amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177). They included:

  • Reed (D-RI) Amendment to improve school libraries (AGREED TO)
  • Warner (D-VA) Amendment to enable state and local funds to be used for fiscal support teams Public Lands (AGREED TO)
  • Rounds (R-SD) Amendment in support of a study focused on schools in Indian Country (AGREED TO)
  • Hirono (D-HI) Amendment to document populations of Asia-Pacific Islanders (NOT AGREED TO)
  • Tester (D-MT) Amendment in support of tribal grant programs (AGREED TO)
  • Alexander (R-TN) Amendment to make Title I funds portable (NOT AGREED TO)
  • Murray (D-WA) Amendment in support of equal access to interscholastic sports for female athletes (AGREED TO)
  • Bennet (D-CO) Amendment in support of reviewing effectiveness of federally funded programs for children (AGREED TO)

Accountability, particularly as it pertains to civil rights, continues to be a major theme of the Senate deliberations, but the work is steady, and respectful of bipartisanship. More debate is expected tomorrow.


The House began the day by passing a rule allowing the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) to be considered, then proceeded to debate amendments, mainly tailored to the far right, before a final vote on the full legislation.

  • Interestingly, the House voted down a far right amendment called “A PLUS” from Representative Mark Walker (R-NC-06), designed to allow states to opt-out of federal education policy provisions, while still allowing them access to federal funding. Its failure may have ultimately salvaged moderate Republican support for the bill.
  • The House passed an amendment sponsored by Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ-05) that allows the opting-out of standardized tests, an idea that had gained some Democratic support.
  • A Democratic substitute to the bill was defeated by a vote of 187-244.

In a frantic final few minutes, the Student Success Act eked across the finish line with a passing vote of 218-213. Both the White House and Department of Education have already expressed their utmost dismay for H.R. 5, and have threatened to veto it.

Regardless, the most important work yet to come will take place in the Senate, and, ultimately, in conference committee, where Congress will try to work out a compromise deal that both chambers, and the President, will find acceptable. Hope remains palpable for a good result. We will continue following all of the action tomorrow.

Follow the ESEA action on Twitter and watch for updates here. Follow the Every Child Achieves Act Amendment Tracker.

Christopher Woodside, NAfME Assistant Executive Director, 8 July 2015. © National Association for Music Education.