The focus in Congress has been ongoing negotiations on the omnibus spending bill that needs to be passed to avert a shutdown. Talks continued throughout last week, but Congress was unable to reach an agreement before Friday's deadline.
As an interim measure, the Senate passed a five-day stopgap spending bill to keep the government running until this Wednesday; the House voted on the same legislation. The move buys time for both chambers to continue negotiations this week. Republicans and Democrats are having a difficult time coming to an agreement on the year-long spending bill, as well as the tax extenders package. Even with these hurdles, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) stated last Thursday that he expects a bill will be filed early this week and that both the House and Senate will vote on the omnibus bill on Wednesday.
Last week, the Senate passed the "Every Student Succeeds Act," a sweeping rewrite of the "No Child Left Behind" education law. It passed in a bipartisan 85-12 vote this week after the House previously passed it. The legislation reduces the federal government's control over the nation's public schools by transferring decision-making power back to state and local governments in certain areas. It will keep the annual reading and math testing requirements and allows local jurisdictions more influence in setting goals, crafting school ratings and solutions for struggling schools. President Obama signed the bill into law last Thursday and praised the bipartisan nature of it at the signing.