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Every Student Succeeds Act

Bill Would Repeal Law GOP Used to Scrap Obama’s ESSA Rules

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 16, 2017 1 min read
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A bill that would repeal the means Congress used to overturn regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act has been introduced by three Democratic lawmakers, including one possible presidential hopeful for 2020.

The legislation, introduced Tuesday, would get rid of the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn recently enacted federal regulations, like those that President Barack Obama’s administration wrote to govern accountability and state plans for ESSA. It was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who could be a candidate for the White House in three years, and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., also introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

Earlier this year, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., introduced a resolution under the CRA to overturn those regulations, and President Donald Trump eventually approved it. Arguably, it’s the most consequential action Trump has taken with respect to K-12 education since taking office in January.

“Abuse of the CRA has allowed congressional Republicans to fast track the repeal of a host of protections that benefit everyday Americans with little notice or public debate,” Booker said in a statement about the legislation. This GOP-controlled Congress has also used to the CRA to overturn Obama-era rules dealing with environmental protections and Internet privacy, among other issues.

The Obama ESSA regulations would have set down rules for policies covering things like school ratings and school improvement. Democrats argued that the rules would have established clear and necessary requirements for states to protect vulnerable students. But Republicans argued the regulations were too heavy-handed and contradicted ESSA’s intent to provide states and districts more control over key K-12 policy decisions.

Congress can’t use the CRA to overturn any set of regulations it wants, since it can only use it within 60 days of receiving a final rule from a federal agency. So regulations finalized before that timeline can’t be overturned using the CRA. Trump’s decision to overturn the Obama-era ESSA rules is the first time a set of federal education regulations has been blocked using the CRA.

Read a copy of the bill.

Video: ESSA Explained in 3 Minutes

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