Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 18   Issue 34- September 30, 2011


At an Education Stakeholders Forum Thursday, Secretary Arne Duncan and top officials at the U.S. Department of Education discussed the recently released waiver package that allows states to seek relief from provisions of the No Child Left Behind law. (For a quick summary of waiver requirements, go to the NCSL website at,64,224#224.) Congress has failed to act so far on comprehensive legislation reauthorizing No Child Left Behind, although Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin announced that same day that his committee will take up reauthorization on October 18. States are requested to give notice of intent to apply for waivers by October 12. Assistant Secretary Carmel Martin emphasized the administration’s commitment to going ahead with the waiver process, saying “We want Congress to move on reauthorization, but we hear states want to move forward.” As this process unfolds, NCSL welcomes communications from state legislators and staff about the direction their state intends to take and what information they need to be part of the discussion about waivers. NCSL staff contacts Lee Posey and Michael Reed


Although the House and Senate are reportedly in recess, a sufficient number of members appeared this week to pass a continuing resolution for FY 2012 funding that lasts … four days. H.R. 2017 keeps the federal government in non-shutdown mode through Oct. 4, 2011, does not contain additional funds for disaster emergency assistance (the Federal Emergency Management Agency claimed it could get through September without additional funds), and contains none of the offsets that stirred controversy in the Senate. Early next week Congress will take up H.R. 2608, a second FY 2012 continuing resolution that will keep the federal government humming and maintain state-federal grant funding through Nov. 18, 2011. This legislation has passed the Senate and returns to the House where the only potential controversy that might surface—as of this moment—is the total level of discretionary funding to be authorized for FY 2012. H.R. 2608 assumes the $1.043 trillion in discretionary spending agreed to in last August’s Budget Control Act. Some House members may insist on a $1.019 trillion level, the amount included in the House-passed budget resolution. Stay tuned, we will update you early next week. NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley


There were just a few developments as Congress stood in recess until next week. Calls for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to “go big” (meaning go beyond their mandate to achieve $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction) mounted. A group of 36 senators seeking a multi-trillion dollar deficit reduction agreement grew by two as North Dakota Senator John Hoeven and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin added their names to the group. These 19 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent are seeking at least $4 trillion in deficit reduction, which can be viewed here: A group of business organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers and Associated General Contractors of America stated in a separate communication that “Congress must reform entitlement programs and comprehensively restructure the tax code … and [support] policies that lead to faster, more sustainable economic growth.” This followed on the heels of similar correspondence from 155 business groups. NCSL continues to support a comprehensive deficit reduction plan that includes proportionate domestic spending reductions without new unfunded mandates or cost shifts to states, as can be viewed in NCSL’s deficit reduction priorities letter: NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley