The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee last night (October 20th) passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with a 15-7 vote. Joining all Democrats in voting in favor of the legislation were three Republicans, Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Mark Kirk (R-IL). Unfortunately, an amendment sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that would support school libraries was withdrawn by Senator Whitehouse because of lack of support on the amendment. Even though, this amendment was withdrawn Senator Whitehouse did state in committee that he does wish to reintroduce this amendment on the senate floor.
The next step in the legislative process is for the ESEA bill to be brought before the full Senate. It is unknown at this time when this will happen. When the bill is eventually brought to the senate floor we will need active support from all ALA members and other library supporters to push their senators to vote for the Whitehouse/Murray amendment.