Federal Policy Update
by Tynettia Elrod on 9/24/2015

As most of Congress speeds towards a government shutdown, congressional aides are slowly moving the No Child Left Behind debate towards a conference, and lawmakers today were cheery about the prospects for a deal.

"The idea that we may not have a budget and that may shut the government down? That would slow the discussion," joked House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bobby Scott.

Scott was far more hopeful about the reauthorization than earlier this year when he vehemently opposed House Republicans' proposed bill, which was drafted without Democrats' input.

"We hope to be able to get a good bill. We're working on it," Scott said. "I think we're going to keep talking - particularly at the staff level - to see how close we can get" before naming conferees to an official conference committee, Scott said. The conversation is mostly between lawmakers at this point, he added, but they are also considering the Obama administration's view and "everybody's involved in the discussion."

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander was similarly optimistic.

"I think we're on track. We're having good discussions," Alexander said, adding that he thinks the bill is still on a path to reauthorization before the end of the year.

Capitol Hill lawmakers aren't the only ones still focused on a deal: The American Federation of Teachers is running ads in D.C. publications (including POLITICO) calling on Congress to "fix No Child Left Behind."

To view online: