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Proposed Budget Deal Could Make ESEA Reauthorization Easier

White House officials and congressional leaders have reached a tentative two-year budget deal that would lift the mandatory caps on spending known as sequestration, and potentially created an easier path for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to be reauthorized.

The 144-page "discussion draft" was agreed to yesterday, after negotiations between leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate and officials in President Barack Obama's administration. In addition to increasing spending on domestic programs and the military by a combined $80 billion over the next two years, it would also increase the debt ceiling, which the federal government is due to hit Nov. 3.

The proposal itself doesn't deal directly with education policy or K-12 appropriations, although education advocates who oppose sequestration as a general matter might breathe a bit easier if it's approved. And on that note, the deal still needs to be approved by Congress, something that's no sure thing given the divisions among House Republicans. But if Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and others succeed in pushing the bill through, it would give Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, the presumptive replacement for Boehner as speaker, an easier start to his tenure. In fact, that's a big reason why Boehner reportedly agreed to the deal—to make Ryan's life as speaker easier.

In theory at least, the deal could create more time for Ryan to focus on other legislation, including ESEA reauthorization. As I wrote about earlier this week, while any bill to emerge out of ongoing House and Senate ESEA negotiations is likely to be to the left of what some of Ryan's GOP membership might like, Ryan has a good relationship with Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the House education committee and wants ESEA reauthorization done. (Kline himself is not seeking re-election next year.)

And as my co-blogger Alyson Klein reported a week ago, negotiators for Kline and other top K-12 lawmakers are working hard behind the scenes to reach an agreement.

So if this deal goes into effect, cheerleaders for ESEA reauthorization who might have drooped a bit after Boehner's resignation announcement last month might have cause to get peppy once again.

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