Congress has passed emergency aid to help save more than 138,000 education jobs nationwide. The measure cleared the House of Representatives in a 247-161 vote today, paving the way to help cash-strapped state governments keep educators on the job and make Medicaid payments. President Obama signed the bill into law late this afternoon.
Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood heralded the support of Rep. Walt Minnick, who represents Idaho's 1st District. “We applaud Rep. Minnick for standing up for Idaho children with his vote to save educator jobs all across our state,” Wood said. “Because of his support and the successful House vote, nearly 900 Idaho teachers, classroom aides, bus drivers and other education professionals will be able to stay on the job, serving our children and our communities. Rep. Minnick truly put principle above politics with this vote for broad economic recovery and strong schools for every child in Idaho.”
The House vote was the final drama in a summer-long effort to secure emergency funding to help stem the tide of layoffs in schools nationwide. On August 4, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe – both Maine Republicans – crossed party lines to join the majority in a 61-38 vote to close debate on the measure. (Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch held the GOP line in denying help to avert a double-dip recession, despite the fact the legislation will not add to the federal budget deficit. Rep. Mike Simpson also voted no today.)
The House interrupted its summer recess to cast a final vote on the measure so states and schools could plan for a school year that is already starting in some districts. As the National Education Association's Education Votes site reported last week, “Supporters pointed out that the earlier that schools know the $10 billion in aid from H.R. 1586 is on the way and the earlier they can receive it, the better their chances of preventing or calling off layoffs. Also, enacting the education jobs fund now will be less disruptive than waiting until mid-September — when the House was originally scheduled to return from its recess.”
The measure included about $10 billion to save more than 138,000 education jobs nationwide, including an estimated 856 in Idaho. State governments also will benefit as the measure includes a $16 billion extension of federal recovery funds to help make Medicaid payments.
Idaho educators, click here to say thanks to Rep. Minnick for his yes votes to save education jobs, or to express disappointment to Rep. Simpson.