House Republicans pass broad education measure on ‘parental rights’
Amendment Drama: The bill has also become a high-profile vehicle for several other GOP priorities, such as ensuring parents know their schooling options and policies regarding transgender students. However, Republicans failed to garner enough votes to give Congress the impression that the Education Department should be eliminated by the end of the calendar year.
About half of the 22 amendments considered on the floor were added to the legislation before the final vote, which came after internal disputes among Republicans over the limited debate. Amendments that received bipartisan support included requiring schools to provide parents with timely notices of major cyberattacks and the GAO submitting a report to Congress on the costing of the bill’s requirements and evaluating the impact of the bill on the protection of parents’ rights.
The legislation — which has already in the face of condemnation from the White House — won’t be brought up on the other side of the Capitol, said Senate Majority Leader Schumer, who vowed on Friday that the bill “would hit a dead end” in his chamber.
The Ministry of Education was quick to criticize the bill.
“The Biden-Harris administration is pleased to work with House Republicans on the issues most important to parents. … Unfortunately, looking at the record of Republican officials on education, it is not rooted in the reality that parents live in,” a spokesperson for the Department of Education told POLITICO in a statement. “Whether it’s cutting funding for public education, ignoring tragic gun violence in our schools, or banning books to fit a political agenda, Republican officials are focusing more on the political than on helping our parents, our children and our schools.”
Still, the House vote allows Republicans to use Democrats’ vote against a “parents’ bill of rights” as a 2024 campaign pitch.
While the measure was welcomed by many Republicans, particularly the party leadership, Democrats and the handful of Republicans who voted against the measure criticized it.
Gaetz on Twitter said he voted against the bill because “the federal government SHOULD NOT be involved in education” and he wants to “abolish” the Ministry of Education.
Buck also expressed a similar feelingtweeting that “the overwhelming majority of House Republicans will now publicly support the idea of expanding federal powers in your child’s education.”
Rejection on transgender student provisions: Several LGBTQ advocacy groups have denounced the legislation for including provisions establishing that a parent has the right to know whether their child’s school allows transgender girls to play on sports teams or use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. The bill would also require schools to obtain parental consent to allow students to use different names and pronouns or facilities that match their gender identity.
“These efforts to censor curricula and force out transgender and non-binary students borrow from a discriminatory wave of bills sweeping the country — a wave of bills, by the way, that the majority of voters don’t have not asked and do not support,” said David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign.
In the coming weeks, Republicans are expected to consider a bill — HR 734 (118)the Protection of Women and Girls in Sport Act 2023 — which would prevent transgender girls from playing on women’s and women’s sports teams.
Lawmakers attached amendments to mandate disclosures about transgender students by voice vote this week, signaling lawmakers from both parties were not yet ready to force their colleagues to a roll call on the sensitive issue. The sports bill would be the next big opportunity for the GOP to put lawmakers on the record of gender identity politics.