No Deal Yet
Debt ceiling talks picked up this week as scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on debt legislation were released. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (NV) plan would reportedly cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion, more than Speaker Boehner’s (OH) legislation.
While support for Boehner’s plan seemed to increase throughout the week, the GOP could not persuade enough members to support the measure last night and a vote on Boehner’s bill was postponed indefinitely. Many Senators contend that the bill would be quickly rejected if and when it makes it to the Senate floor.
Congress has until next Tuesday, August 2nd to come to a deal before the country hits its default deadline.
Duncan Testified at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing
At a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing this week, Senators were surprised to learn that spending at the Department of Education increased by 20 percent over the last two years. Education secretary Arne Duncan revealed that the increased spending was mostly due to the rise in Pell grant use, a conversation that dominated most of yesterday’s hearing. Duncan also brought up the Race to the Top and I3 funds as priorities, though several members questioned these approaches. Duncan stressed that all students need a well-rounded education and that youth and adults need “new skills for the jobs of tomorrow” but there was no mention of Career Technical Education as a method of delivering these goals.
View a webcast of the hearing here.
WIA Markup Postponed
The August 3rd markup of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) has been removed from the Senate calendar. A new date has not been set.
No Timeline Set for ESEA
Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), chairman of the Senate’s Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, was unable to give a timeline this week when asked about a schedule for marking up the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) bill. Harkin stated that his discussions with the HELP committee’s top Republican, Sen. Michael Enzi (WY), are progressing but they still disagree on major issues like accountability, teachers and comparability. While Harkin would like to see a bipartisan ESEA bill passed, this seems very unlikely to happen before the start of the new school year.
For the first time since Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s controversial offer to grant waivers to states on aspects of the old law, Sen. Harkin suggested that he may be open to Duncan’s waiver idea if no progress is made on reauthorizing ESEA.
Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act
Rep. Judy Chu (CA) and Rep. David Loebsack (IA) reintroduced H.R. 2637, the Developing Innovative Partnerships and Learning Opportunities that Motivate Achievement (DIPLOMA) Act to encourage collaboration among communities, schools and social-service programs to find solutions for challenges faced by struggling students to reduce dropout rates. The bill would award grants to states, who would award subgrants to local consortia. Grantees may, but are not required to, use funds to implement dual enrollment programs, early college high schools, and strategies for dropout prevention. Grants may also be used to fund opportunities for job training, career counseling, internships, and Career Technical Education.