From guest blogger Stephen Sawchuk
Senate Republicans have a lot to be grouchy about these days, it seems. And, as I discovered this morning, some of them aren’t just irritated by the Democrats’ handling of the stimulus proposal, but also at the Bush Administration’s handling of the No Child Left Behind Act in the administration’s final days.
In remarks at a conference on federal-education priorities sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute and others, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s top aide, David Cleary, had some choice comments about the new and old administrations.
“I didn’t realize how much we liked Arne Duncan until we gave him $15 billion to play with,” Cleary said, referring to the state education incentive fund in the Senate stimulus bill. “We never gave Margaret Spellings that much to play with, thank God.”
Apparently, Spellings’ tendency to waive portions of the NCLB law and append other requirements through rulemaking didn’t sit well with some Republican members. “Spellings has shown us that the law doesn’t matter, you can just create [reforms] out of whole cloth,” Cleary said.
Both Democrats and Republicans face serious disagreements within their own parties on NCLB, and perhaps that’s one reason why Cleary added that he expects the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to pick up bills to enhance national community service programs, create reforms to early-childhood education, and increase college affordability before it tackles NCLB.
Those are some hefty pieces of legislation. So it sounds like we’ll be waiting a while.