WASHINGTON – This week was supposed to be “Education Week” in the U.S. House. And it was educational, just not in the way that Republican leaders had intended when the centerpiece of their efforts, the Student Success Act authored by 2nd District U.S. Rep. John Kline, was pulled from the floor in the middle of debate.
The move was a consequence both of the down to the wire struggle among Republicans to find a consensus on how to fund the Department of Homeland Security and of lobbying by conservative groups that argued Kline’s bill did not go far enough.
House Republicans have struggled to find the votes among their caucus to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded beyond a midnight deadline. DHS was funded on a short-term basis as part of a GOP attempt to challenge the Obama Administration’s executive orders on immigration. That effort has continued in fits and starts throughout Friday and the House now appears set to pass a three week extension of DHS funding before evening.
Kline’s bill is an attempt to rewrite the 2002 No Child Left Behind Education law. The measure would rein in the Department of Education’s ability to use to federal funds to push for changes to state education systems and cut and consolidate a number of federal programs.
The Obama Administration threatened to veto the bill if enacted, calling it, “a significant step backwards” because it would allow states to divert education money from poor-performing schools. Most House Democrats appeared set to oppose the bill.
Still, the legislation wasn’t conservative enough for outside groups such as Heritage Action and the Club for Growth.
“The proposal has only modest reforms, and worse, it contains no meaningful reduction in overall spending. Absent a plan that terminates No Child Left Behind, House members should demand that the bill allow states to completely opt out of the program,” wrote Club for Growth Vice President Andy Roth in a letter to House members urging them to oppose the bill.
“It is first and foremost a scheduling issue,” said Kline, when asked about the delay outside of the House chamber, referring to the debate over Homeland Security funding.
But Kline acknowledged that rounding up the votes in favor of the bill had been a challenge.
“I don’t know what the whip count is. I know that it is close,” said Kline.
House leaders have given no indication if the bill will return to the floor next week or if it will require changes to increase its appeal to conservatives.
In a statement issued later in the afternoon, Kline said he expected the House would take up the bill again “soon.”