Senate to Vote Today on Landmark Education Reform Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding bipartisan education reform, another in a series of bipartisan accomplishments in the 114th Congress:
“Some questioned whether Washington could ever agree on a replacement for No Child Left Behind.
“They needn’t question any longer. Just consider today’s headline from the Associated Press: ‘Outdated education law up for major makeover in Senate.’
“This morning, we expect that a new Senate that’s back to work will send the Every Student Succeeds Act to the President for his signature.
“This forward-looking replacement for a broken law would open new opportunities for our kids, and put education back in the hands of those who understand their needs best: parents, teachers, states, and school boards.
“This bipartisan legislation would strengthen charter schools.
“This bipartisan legislation would prevent distant bureaucrats from imposing Common Core.
“This bipartisan legislation would substitute one-size-fits-all federal mandates for greater state and local flexibility.
“In short, it’s conservative reform designed to help students succeed instead of helping Washington grow.
“It’s a significant achievement for our country.
“I want to thank everyone who helped make this moment possible.
“At the top of that list are two Senators.
“There’s Senator Alexander, a former Education Secretary from Tennessee — a Republican.
“There’s Senator Murray, a former preschool teacher from Washington — a Democrat.
“They worked hard, they worked across the aisle, and they worked in good faith.
“Their success in this effort is our country’s gain. It’s a win for parents. It’s a win for dedicated teachers. Most importantly, it’s a win for children, because these young Americans deserve the enhanced opportunities the bill would provide.
Here’s something else we know about what Senator Alexander and Senator Murray accomplished.
“It’s a testament to what a new and more open approach can bring to the legislative process.
“It gives Senators of both parties more of a say. It gives Senators of both parties more of a stake.
“And so, Senators are more likely to be interested in working together and seeing good ideas through to completion. That’s just what we’ve seen here.
“Here’s how Senator Murray put it: ‘I am very proud of the bipartisan work we have done on the Senate floor—debating amendments, taking votes, and making this good bill even better.’
“Here’s how Senator Alexander put it: ‘The bill is just one more example that Congress is back to work.’
“I couldn’t agree more.
“Finding a serious replacement for No Child Left Behind eluded Washington for years. Today it will become another bipartisan achievement for our country.
“I urge every colleague to join me in voting to send this forward-looking, conservative reform to the President’s desk. Let’s vote to help every student succeed by passing a bill NPR calls a ‘sea change in the federal approach’ and The Wall Street Journal hails as ‘the largest devolution of federal control to the states in a quarter-century.’
“The new Congress and the new Senate have had a habit this year of turning third rails into bipartisan achievements.
“You might say we did so on highways and transportation last week.
“You might say we’re doing so on schools and education this week.
“We’ve also overcome significant obstacles to pass important legislation that would protect Americans’ privacy online through the sharing of cyber threat information, that would help fight against unfair trade barriers, that would help our military modernize and prepare for future threats, and that would bring hope to victims of deplorable crimes who suffer in the shadows.
“But when it comes to the truest of third rails in American politics, some boil that down to just two phrases.
“We all know that positive action will be needed if we care about saving these programs for future generations.
“Republicans and Democrats are both aware of this inescapable fact.
“Yet too many politicians have been conditioned to believe that bringing one comma of positive reform to either law is political suicide.
“Well, bipartisan majorities in the new Congress voted to change a lot more than just commas in both laws.
“We took bipartisan action on Medicare, reforming a broken payment system that threatened seniors’ care.
“We took bipartisan action on Social Security’s disability insurance component, enacting the most significant reform in a generation.
“As a result of these bipartisan reforms, we put a permanent end to Congress’ annual ‘Doc Fix’ drama, we brought reform to a program for disabled Americans that was scheduled to go broke next year, and we broke through — on a bipartisan basis — an important psychological barrier that’s held back broader positive action for the American people.
“The scale of what this new Congress was able to achieve on these issues is noteworthy, but it’s important for another reason—it clears a path for future wins for our constituents.
“That’s good news for our country today. That’s good news for future generations tomorrow. And it’s another example of a Congress that’s back to work for the American people, and back on their side.”
Related Issues: Every Student Succeeds Act, Restoring the Senate, Back to Work, Entitlement Reform, Education, Highway Bill, Cybersecurity