Keep telling your senators to push for action on bills that help families and educators
As the Senate begins its August recess, the list of House-passed bills awaiting action just grows longer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is proud of his refusal even to consider legislation with broad-based support—in the House and among the American people—and smilingly describes himself as the Grim Reaper. More than 100 House-passed bills are languishing in the Senate’s legislative graveyard, including five that are NEA priorities. Email your senators—again, if you’ve already done so—and tell them to push for action on the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act, the Equality Act, the Raise the Wage Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Background Check Expansion Act.
Senate passes bipartisan budget bill that prevents severe cuts in education funding
By a vote of 67-28, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R. 3877) already passed by the House. The bill lifts the budget caps introduced in 2011 and prevents severe cuts in non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. In 2020 alone, the budget caps would have resulted in automatic cuts of $55 billion to education and other NDD programs. Now, NEA is urging senators to support significant investments in education like those in the House-passed education appropriations bill—particularly in programs serving the students most in need such as Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The House bill also increases funding for community schools and takes steps to make college more affordable. Email your senators and tell them to push for increases like those in the House education appropriations bill.
FCC wants to make changes that would negatively affect rural students, schools, and libraries
Rural schools and libraries could find it harder to access the internet if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has its way. A proposed rule published earlier this month combines funding for the E-Rate and Rural Health Care programs, forcing them to compete for a single pot of money—not what Congress intended when it passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that established them as separate programs with distinct purposes. E-Rate has played a vital role in connecting nearly 100 percent of our schools and public libraries to the internet. Today, E-Rate ensures that schools stay connected with high-speed broadband, providing access to information and services critical to 21st century teaching and learning. In comments on the proposed rule, NEA urges the FCC to “immediately terminate this rulemaking and abandon these harmful proposals.”
Reach out while Congress is back home
Both the House and the Senate have adjourned until after Labor Day. Please take the opportunity to reach out to your senators and representative while they’re back home. Continue to weigh in via NEA’s Action Center as well!
Cheers and Jeers
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Senate version of the Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act (S. 2331) to clarify that training for school food workers should be scheduled during paid working hours, offered in person when appropriate, incorporate hands-on training techniques, and provided at no cost to employees.
House Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-VA) is pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to come clean about how many children could lose free school meals under a proposed rule, published in the Federal Register on July 24, that changes eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). USDA staff estimated that the rule “will result in more than 500,000 children losing their automatic eligibility for free schools meals” during a briefing for committee staff, Scott wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Max Rose (D-NY), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Abby Finkenauer (D-IA), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) for forming the College Affordability Caucus to address the student debt crisis and related issues.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) voted to advance the Secure and Protect Act of 2019 (S. 1494), which would gut the Flores settlement agreement’s protections for children. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham jammed the bill through the committee with no amendments, breaking several Senate rules in the process.