The Senate passed two key bills on Thursday that Sen. Bernie Sanders had an integral roll in drafting. Sanders voted for an education bill, which would fundamentally reform No Child Left Behind, and called the legislation a good start. The Senate also passed by unanimous consent the Older Americans Act, which Sanders said “has been extremely important for low-income older Vermonters and seniors across the country.” Sanders also highlighted the tragedy of youth unemployment in America on Thursday and called on his colleagues to support investments in jobs and education. Following President Obama’s announcement of a nuclear agreement with Iran, Sanders called the deal a “victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling.”
Youth Jobs Amendment
As President Barack Obama spotlighted problems with prisons in the United States, Sanders on Thursday called youth unemployment “a national disgrace” and urged Senate colleagues to support legislation to hire 1 million young people. Almost half of black males in the U.S. are arrested by the age of 23 and the real unemployment rate for black high school graduates was 51.3 percent from April of 2014 to March on 2015. Speaking on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to pass the youth jobs program, Sanders said, “The time has come for us to begin investing in jobs and education for our kids, not jails and incarceration. Let’s create productive citizens in America, not more criminals.” Watch Sanders’ remarks here. Read more about Sanders’ amendment here.
Older Americans Act Reauthorized
On Thursday the Senate passed by unanimous consent a reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. Sanders, a leader in the effort to pass this bipartisan legislation, has called for increased funding to support these critical social and nutrition services. “The Older Americans Act has been extremely important for low-income older Vermonters and seniors across the country,” said Sanders. “Programs like Meals on Wheels are keeping seniors healthy and out of expensive hospitals and nursing homes. I am pleased to see this bill pass with such strong support today.” The Older Americans Act provides essential services for nearly 12 million seniors such as nutrition programs, job training, caregiver support, transportation and protection from abuse and financial exploitation. Read more here.
Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States reached an historic accord on Tuesday to significantly limit Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. Following the deal's announcement, Sanders hailed the agreement as a “victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.” He added, “I look forward to learning more about the complex details of this agreement to make sure that it is effective and strong.” Read the full statement here.
Every Child Achieves Act
On Thursday, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, which would fundamentally reform No Child Left Behind. The law would replace the current high-stakes standardized testing model with an approach that would give Vermont significant flexibility to determine how to intervene in struggling schools. As a member of the Senate Education Committee, Sanders had a role in crafting the bill and successfully fought to lower the stakes on standardized testing and to preserve a federal after-school program that serves thousands of low-income students around Vermont. The bill also included a pilot program written by Senator Sanders that would allow states to develop innovative alternatives to standardized testing.