EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress December 8, 2019

Tell Congress to increase Title I and IDEA in final funding bill

House and Senate negotiators continue to seek agreement on a final funding bill for fiscal 2020 by Dec. 20, when the latest stopgap measure expires. NEA is pushing for significant increases like those in H.R. 2740, the education appropriations bill passed by the House earlier this year. The House bill includes a $1 billion increase for Title I, which provides extra financial help for school districts with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families, as well as a $1 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In contrast, the pending Senate education appropriations bill provides no additional funding for either program.

Federal funding for Title and IDEA have not kept pace with inflation, growing enrollment, or student needs. This year, more than half the nation’s Title I-eligible school districts will have their Title I funds reduced, according to U.S. Department of Education allocations. The federal share of the excess cost of educating students with disabilities has declined for five consecutive years and is now just 14 percent—far below the 40 percent Congress promised to provide. Tell your senators and representative to match the House increases for Title I and IDEA in any final funding bill. TAKE ACTION 

House passes Voting Rights Advancement Act

The Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (H.R. 4), passed by the House 228-127 on Dec. 6, would once again require states and localities with recent histories of voter discrimination to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before making any changes in their election laws. The measure is a direct response to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder, which invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act first passed in 1965 to address persistent and purposeful discrimination—through literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats, and violence—that curtailed political participation for millions of Americans.

In the absence of critical federal oversight, many states implemented laws that restricted voting in the 2016 and 2018 elections. What happens next is up to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to take up more than 100 bills passed by the House, including the NEA-supported 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. 

Cheers and Jeers

The Senate passed a bipartisan amendment to the House-passed FUTURE Act to make permanent $255 million in annual funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced the Ending PUSHOUT Act, which will work to disrupt the school-to-confinement pipeline by investing in safe and nurturing school environments for all students, especially girls of color.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) was the only Republican to VOTE YES on the Voting Rights Advancement Act.

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