Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised the legislative success of getting a bipartisan, updated version of No Child Left Behind to the Senate floor. McConnell said the new Congress has been proving pundits wrong on its ability to legislate, passing Medicare payment reform and free trade bills. Now, a bipartisan education reform bill that passed the Senate education committee unanimously is finally on the full Senate floor for debate.
"It's a good thing Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray didn't listen to [pundits]," McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday. "The fact that we're even here today discussing yet another important reform solution to yet another seemingly intractable problem is one more reminder this is a new Congress ... that's focused on solutions for the American people."
Senate education committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Ranking Member Patty Murray, D-Wash., worked hard to get bipartisan support for their reform bill. While several amendments passed during the committee process, many senators agreed to withdraw more controversial amendments until they could be debated on the full Senate floor, where they'll face a higher threshold for passage.
After it was signed into law in 2002, No Child Left Behind was supposed to be reformed in 2007.
The official title of the Senate reform bill is the Every Child Achieves Act.
As for his own support for the reform bill, McConnell stressed the importance of reducing the federal role over education and empowering states. "The needs of a student in eastern Kentucky aren't likely to be the same as those of students in south Florida or downtown Manhattan," McConnell said. "The bill would give states the flexibility to develop systems that work for the needs of their students rather than the one-size-fits-all mandates of Washington."