The U.S. Department of Education isn't directly affected by the government shutdown—it's among the agencies that had their funding approved last fall, before the crisis hit—but could the key to ending the Beltway stalemate lie in some previous education policy wheeling and dealing?
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., says yes. The chairman of the Senate education committee is making the case that the negotiations behind the Every Student Succeeds Act more than three years ago provide a blueprint for helping the Trump administration and Congress reopen the government.
In a Thursday floor speech in the Senate, Alexander chastised both members of Congress and President Donald Trump for failing to reach a deal, and said they should both take lessons from 2015, when Alexander, lawmakers from both parties, and President Barack Obama worked to reauthorize the main federal education law. He said Democrats should recognize that Trump has a legitimate objective with respect to increasing border security.
And as for the Trump, Alexander says, "He should be as specific and reliable as President Obama was in 2015 when he told me he needed three things in order to sign a bill. And when Congress passed a bill with those three things in it, even though it included some things the president didn't like, he signed the law."
Lawmakers and Trump should consider broadening the discussion by trying to resolve questions around things like Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or—if they really want to go "really big"—revamping the entire legal immigration system in a way that satisfies a number of objectives, in addition to resolving the shutdown.