Senate Easily Passes Every Child Achieves Act

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Every Child Achieves Act, which includes several provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act passed under the Bush administration, passed the U.S. Senate on Thursday with bipartisan support.
     Passed 81-17 after just over one week of debate, the bill would give to the states some of the federally controlled powers contained in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, and would allow states to determine how to weigh federally mandated tests when evaluating the success of their schools.
     “This is a complicated piece of legislation,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said after the vote. “There are crocodiles at every corner.”
     Alexander, a co-sponsor of the bill, has praised the bipartisan support for the bill since it came to the Senate floor last Tuesday, emphasizing that it came through the Health Labor and Pensions committee without objection.
     “The way you govern a complex society is by consensus,” Alexander said on the floor after the vote.
     While the bill has support in both parties and from many different parts of the country, its opponents are similarly diverse.
     Republicans made up the 15 of the 17 votes against the bill, while Democrats Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey joined Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul in entering no votes for the legislation.
     Though his Republican colleagues claim that the bill does not go far enough to change the system No Child Left Behind created, Alexander encouraged them to vote for the bill.
     “This gives us about 80 percent of what we want,” Alexander said on the floor before the bill, invoking Ronald Reagan’s opinion that agreeing with someone 80 percent of the time makes that person an ally.
     Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who co-sponsored the legislation, expressed a similar sentiment, promising to work to improve the bill during conference committee, especially with regard to safeguards against inequalities in schools.
     Murray also criticized the House of Representatives’ education bill, the Student Success Act, calling it an “unacceptable partisan path” to changing the No Child Left Behind Act.
     On the floor after the vote, Alexander spoke highly of the Senate’s place in government and of the importance of bipartisan legislation such as his bill.
     “Our job is to take all the different points of view and consult with each other to see if we can make a consensus,” he said.
     The bill will now go to conference committee to be reconciled with the Student Success Act, which the House of Representatives passed on July 8.
     The final bill would then have a path to President Barack Obama’s desk. Before the Every Child Achieves Act went up for debate, the Hill reported that a spokesman for the White House said the president did not support either house of Congress’ education bill.

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