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Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Part 4)

June 28th, 2010

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After the bill had been drafted and approved, a conference was requested with appointments of conferees Kennedy, Dodd, Harkin, Mikulski, Jeffords, Bingaman, Wellstone, Murray, Reed, Edwards, Clinton, Lieberman, Bayhn, Gregg, Frist, Enzi, Hutchison, Warner, Bond, Roberts, Collins, Sessions, DeWine, Allard and Ensign, and this message on Senate action was sent to the House on July 11, 2001.

On July 18, 2001, Sponsor and Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, moved and was later approved 424-5 that the House disagree to the amendment placed on H. R. 1 and thus, a conference was organized. The Speaker of the House appointed conferees for consideration of the house bill and Senate amendment, and modifications committed to conference who included Boehner, Petri, Roukema, McKeon, Castle, Graham, Hilleary, Isakson, Miller, George, Kildee, Owens, Mink, Andrews, and Roemer on the afternoon of July 18th. Between July 19 and December 11, a series of conference meetings were held to reconcile the different bills produced in each chamber. Neither version of the bill as passed would have worked in the current political and education situation, as according to the Congressional Research Service, the Senate passed version would have deemed every school in both North Carolina and Texas a failure and subject to reorganization (Austin). As a result of this complication and based on the fact that while the Senate had voted to significantly increase the overall number of ESEA programs from fifty-five to eighty-none, the House passed version would have streamlined the overall number to forty-seven (“House-Senate Education Conference Approves President’s Reading Initiatives”), instead of melding the two agreements, the conferees were given the task of devising a new one. This particular conference worked in subconferences consisting of a small group of both House and Senate Republican and Democrat members, as specified in Sinclair’s description, due to the unwieldingness of such a large overall conference. By November 30, both houses had worked out all the major issues in dealing with testing, accountability, and financing, but had been encumbered with a small point. Conducted behind the scenes deep within the Capitol building as means of avoiding regulations specified by the Sunshine rules, enigmatic negotiations took place between conference leaders as does often occur when a stalemate often requires leadership intervention in modern politics described by Sinclair. On December 11, 2001, the conferees finally agreed to file the conference report, and two days later, the House passed agreed with the modified bill by a recorded vote of 381-41. The conference report was next considered in the Senate by Unanimous Consent on December 17, 2001 and was agreed to by a Yea-Nay vote of 87-10 the following day.

On January 8, 2002 H. R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was signed into Public Law No. 107-110 by President George W. Bush in a ceremony in Hamilton, Ohio, the home district of Sponsor Rep. Boehner with the four principal negotiators Boehner, Miller, Gregg, and Kennedy on hand. “I decided to sign this bill in one of the most important places in America – a public school,” stated President Bush, pen in hand, “Today beings a new era, a new time for public education in our country. Our schools will have higher expectations – we believe every child can learn. From this day forward, all students will have a better chance to learn, to excel, and to live out their dreams,” (President Bush Signs Landmark Education Reforms into Law”).

Many of the modern lawmaking principles described in Barbara Sinclair’s Unorthodox Lawmaking were evident in the amendment and passage of H. R. 1; however, I feel that my case is a poor example of the new legislative process. Because the Senate is considerably smaller in membership, its less hierarchical and less formal nature, lending individuals great power was evident in this piece of legislation, but there were no threats of hold or filibuster, common obstacles in modern congresses. A sequential committee referral in the House rather than a simple designation of primary committee also diverged from Sinclair’s explanation of current politics. In the Senate, very few amendments were made to their version of the bill, and I did not encounter any queen or king of the hill provisions, and I found no instance of self-executing rule in the House.

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