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Legislative Update: ESEA, Appropriations, Senate Retirements

Sen. Harkin Plans to Draft ESEA This Spring

Senator Tom Harkin (IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has announced that he hopes to have a draft of the ESEA reauthorization bill by the time the Senate recesses in April, with plans to bring it to the floor in late spring. Senator Michael Enzi (WY), Ranking Member of the committee, has not committed to this timeline, but his office has said that “a bipartisan bill remains a top priority.”

Harkin will be getting help this session from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM) who will take over retired Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s role as the “Number Two” man on ESEA reauthorization in the Senate. Bingaman’s focus has been on English-language learners, math and science education, high school reform and graduation rates.

In the House, Rep. John Kline (MN), Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee, has made it clear that he hopes to pass a series of smaller bills to address the issues contained in ESEA, rather than a large scale overhaul. It remains unclear how this will play out as both chambers must reach compromise in order to pass a bill.

House Names Labor-HHS Democratic Assignments

We told you last week which Republicans would serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, which oversees funding decisions for education programs. This week we have word on which Democrats will be on the subcommittee:

  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT), Ranking Member
  • Nita Lowey (NY)
  • Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL)
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA)
  • Barbara Lee (CA)

A Number of Senators Announce Retirements in 2012

Last week Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) announced that she will not run for reelection in 2012. The senior Senator from Texas has served in Congress since 1993 and is a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services which oversees Perkins funding.

Sen. Kent Conrad (ND) released a statement this week saying that he will not seek reelection in 2012. First elected to Congress in 1986, Conrad currently serves as the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and is one of the Senate’s most powerful members.

On Wednesday Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) announced that he would not seek a fifth term in 2012. Lieberman has served Connecticut in the Senate since 1988 and is Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Armed Services Committee and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee.

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