NAICU Washington Update

HEA Reauthorization Timeline - Update

July 07, 2015

Progress on the controversial rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (more commonly referred to by its 2002 reauthorization title, No Child Left Behind) is slowing down summer work on the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization.

The Senate has created four staff working groups to discuss the major issues facing higher education, but those working groups have suspended their work to focus on ESEA. Senate staff expects these working groups to reconvene once the ESEA bill gets through the Senate floor in July. Much of the staff on the House and Senate education committees works on both the ESEA and HEA reauthorizations. Thus, the time they have to focus on drafting the HEA reauthorization is pushed back until ESEA progresses.

While ESEA had to be pulled from consideration on the House floor because of conservative opposition, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee leaders Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) forged a bi-partisan agreement in April, and now plan to bring the bill to the Senate floor on July 7. Because the bill (S. 1177) will be considered under an open amendment process, deliberation is likely to take several legislative days before a final vote can be called. However, Senators and staff have made it clear that they fully expect the Senate to clear a final ESEA bill before departing for August recess.

The House pulled its ESEA bill (H.R. 5) from the floor in February due to conservative opposition, but with the Senate now taking action, House leadership is bringing it back to the floor for consideration starting July 8. It will be considered under a revised rule to include conservative amendments on private school vouchers, larger block grants, and other issues. Once these bills pass, the conference process is likely to take many weeks.

NAICU will continue to monitor the situation and update members as Congress pivots back to HEA reauthorization later this month.

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