Special Education A Washington Roundup

Conference Committee Set to Reconcile IDEA Bills

October 19, 2004 1 min read

Shortly after the Nov. 2 elections, the House and the Senate are expected to begin formal negotiations on a bill to reauthorize the nation’s main special education law, following long delays.

The first meeting of lawmakers is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16, said Alexa Marrero, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Staff-level talks have already started.

“I believe the president will have the chance to sign legislation before the end of 2004 that will support special education teachers and improve academic results for children with disabilities,” Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the House education committee chairman, said in an Oct. 8 press release.

That day, the GOP-controlled House named its negotiating team for the conference committee for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act legislation.

The real holdup, however, was in the Senate, where partisan disputes had spurred Democrats—who said they feared their views would be ignored in the conference—to stall the bill, using procedural rules. (“IDEA Reauthorization Gets Boost As House, Senate Plan Discussions,” Sept. 29, 2004.)

Both the House and the Senate have passed different bills reauthorizing the IDEA, which was last updated in 1997.

In the House, five Republicans and three Democrats from the education committee will participate. For the Senate, all members of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee will take part. The Senate committee has 11 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Independent, Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont.

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