Even though the $23 billion education jobs bill faltered yesterday in Congress, proponents of this lifeline to the nation's public schools aren't giving up. Yesterday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis. canceled a committee meeting intended to add the $23 billion to the war-spending bill. Supporters have already encountered trouble getting enough votes in the Senate. And, apparently, Democrats are privately grumbling that President Obama isn't more involved in making the case for this money, which public school advocates say is desperately needed to forestall draconian teacher layoffs, according to this Associated Press story. But the National Education Association's government relations director Kim Anderson said the education jobs bill simply got caught up in deficit politics, which are playing out today as the House considers a package of tax extenders involving jobless benefits and some tax cuts.
On Tuesday the Senate sponsor of the measure, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa,told Ed Week,
I have decided not to offer an amendment on education jobs funding to the supplemental appropriations bill. I've counted the votes, and I am confident that a clear majority of Senators would support such an amendment. But under Senate rules, we need more than a majority - we need a supermajority of 60 votes. And since no Republicans have agreed to support this amendment, we can't get to 60.
Nevertheless, I remain committed to securing this funding. There are other ways to get it. For example, the House is on track to include $23 billion for education jobs in its supplemental appropriations bill. When the bill goes to conference, I will fight to ensure that the House funding prevails. Three hundred thousand jobs and the education of our Nation's children depend on it.