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Legislative Update: House Committee Passes ESEA Flexibility Bill; WIA Markup Rescheduled; Debt Talks Continue; All Children Are Equal Act; and Veterans Opportunity to Work Act

House Committee Passes 3rd ESEA Bill

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved this week the third in a series of five bills designed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The third bill, the State and Local Funding Flexibility Act, passed the Committee despite strong opposition from Democrats and accusations of civil rights violation. Read more.

Workforce Investment Act

The Senate showed an effort to move forward with reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) last month when they released a discussion draft for comment. However, markup of the bill continues to be pushed back and is now scheduled to occur on August 3rd.

Debt Talks

With only two weeks left to take action, Congress still struggles to compromise on the debt ceiling. Republican House leaders will vote next week on a plan that would increase the debt ceiling if Democrats agree to $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years, in addition to passing a balanced budget amendment.

Obama disagrees with the Republican House plan, saying that “I have not seen a credible plan that would allow you to get to $2.4 trillion without really hurting ordinary folks.” The President continues to urge Congress to create a plan before a default occurs in early August.

Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) and Senator Harry Reid (NV) are working together to outline a plan that would give President Obama authority over the debt ceiling but would also demand its incremental increase.

Bills Introduced:

All Children Are Equal Act (ACE)

Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA) introduced H.R. 2485, the All Children Are Equal Act, to increase Title I funding through ESEA for rural districts with high numbers of low-income families. Currently, Title I funds are distributed through a complicated formula based on the size and concentration of poverty in a district. The formula often results in large, urban districts receiving much larger shares of funding than poor, rural districts. Thompson’s bill would place less weight on population to increase the formula’s focus on student poverty. The bill aims to provide more equitable distribution of funds for disadvantaged students in rural areas.

Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011

Rep. Jeff Miller (FL) introduced H.R. 2433, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act, a bill to provide retraining assistance for veterans through community college or technical schools. The bill would require attendees to participate in a full-time program leading to an associates degree or certificate and a job in a high-demand field.

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