LIVE@CoSN2024: Exclusive Coverage

Senate rejects spending to hire more teachers


The measure included $30 billion for state and local governments to hire teachers and other school workers.

President Barack Obama and his allies in the Senate promise to press ahead with separate votes on pieces of his failed $447 billion jobs measure despite unanimous opposition from Republicans. But there also are signs of slippage among Democrats and some suggestion that the strategy isn’t working with voters.

Future votes on individual pieces of the measure aren’t likely to fare better than a pared-back jobs measure designed to boost hiring of teachers and first responders that Republicans and a handful of Democrats scuttled on Oct. 20.

Obama’s revised plan failed on a 50-50 test vote that fell well short of the 60 needed to break a filibuster. Three Democrats abandoned Obama on the vote, and two more who voted with the president said they couldn’t support the underlying Obama plan unless it’s changed.

The $35 billion measure combined $30 billion for state and local governments to hire teachers and other school workers with $5 billion to help pay the salaries of police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. The White House says the measure would “support” almost 400,000 education jobs for one year. Republicans call that a temporary “sugar high” for the economy and say it’s a taxpayer-funded bailout of state and local governments.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the vote showed “a callous disregard for our kids’ futures and the safety of our neighborhoods.” She noted that a CNN/Gallup poll found that 75 percent of Americans support the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.

Obama and his Democratic allies believed they’d found a winning issue in pressing popular ideas such as infrastructure spending and boosting hiring of police officers and firefighters. The sluggish economy and lower tax revenues have caused many teachers’ jobs to be cut over the past several years.

For more school funding news, see our Funding Center at eSN Online.

“For the second time in two weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again,” Obama said in a statement after the vote. “Every American deserves an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what’s necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now.”

“We cannot afford to be bailing out local governments, and we can’t afford stimulus 2.0,” countered Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Democrats haven’t said which piece they’ll resurrect next as an individual bill, but there’s widespread support among party members for spending on highway and bridge projects, as well as for a poll-tested financing mechanism—a surcharge on income exceeding $1 million.

An AP-GfK poll taken Oct. 13-17 found 62 percent of respondents favoring the surcharge as a way to pay for jobs initiatives. Just 26 percent opposed the idea.

More ominously for Democrats, however, the poll suggested that Obama’s party has lost the faith of the public on handling the economy. In it, only 38 percent said they trust Democrats to do a better job than Republicans in handling the economy, the first time Democrats have fallen below 40 percent in the poll. Some 43 percent trust the Republicans more.

Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut broke with Obama on the Oct. 20 vote. Two Democrats who voted with the president, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, said they couldn’t support the underlying Obama plan unless it’s changed.

“This bill fails to give taxpayers any guarantee that this money would actually be used to hire teachers and invest in our schools,” Tester said. “States would get loads of money with little guidance that they spend the money on teachers.”

Immediately after the vote on Obama’s plan, Democrats turned the tables and filibustered Republican-backed legislation that would prevent the government from withholding 3 percent of payments to government contractors. The legislation failed to get the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster on a 57-43 vote, even though 10 Democrats voted to advance it.

For more school funding news, see our Funding Center at eSN Online

Many Democrats and Obama support the idea but opposed it Oct. 20 because it would be paid for with $30 billion in cuts from domestic agency spending. Advocates of repealing the withholding requirement say it will help create jobs, especially from contractors on large projects with smaller profit margins.

The withholding law was passed in 2006 by a GOP-controlled Congress. The idea then was to make sure contractors couldn’t duck their taxes and was imposed after government investigators found that thousands of federal contractors owed taxes.

The GOP-controlled House is likely to pass the measure next week and Reid promised that the Senate would revisit the issue, though there’s likely to be a split between the House and Senate over how to pay for the cost of repealing the withholding rule.

After voting on the competing jobs measures, the Senate worked past midnight on a $128 billion spending bill covering five Cabinet departments.

Early Friday, the Senate voted 84-15 to end direct payments to farmers whose annual incomes exceed $1 million.

Sign up for our K-12 newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Want to share a great resource? Let us know at submissions@eschoolmedia.com.

Comments are closed.

New AI Resource Center
Get the latest updates and insights on AI in education to keep you and your students current.
Get Free Access Today!

"*" indicates required fields

Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Hidden
Email Newsletters:

By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

eSchool News uses cookies to improve your experience. Visit our Privacy Policy for more information.