Michael Petrilli

It Sure Wasn’t Pretty, but Harkin-Enzi’s Out of Committee

The Senate HELP committee voted Thursday night to send the Harkin-Enzi ESEA bill to the floor. It passed 15-7, with support from all of the Democrats and three Republicans (Mike Enzi, Lamar Alexander, and Mark Kirk). Now, let the analysis begin! Here are five thoughts:

  1. This is a big deal, folks. The ESEA reauthorization process hasn’t gotten this far since–well, ever. In 2007 the House education committee floated a draft bill which then died an ignominious death. The Senate HELP committee has never produced a bill . So to have a comprehensive bill marked up and sent to the floor represents a significant milestone.
  2. President Obama and Secretary Duncan deserve credit for spurring the Senate into action. It’s not a coincidence that a bill emerged and a mark-up was held just weeks after the announcement of the Administration’s waiver package. And the discussion over the past few days makes it clear that Senators on both sides of the aisle are motivated to get their job done to stave off the waivers from taking effect. So while I’m not a fan of conditional waivers as a policy, I must admit that it was an effective tool for waking the Senate out of its slumber.

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