Several folks including the National Journal are now -- finally! -- taking note of just how much Harkin and the Democrats gave up last week during the #ESEA markup, without much of a fight, in order to get just three Republican votes (The Saga Continues). But was that a good call, politically and substantively?
Education Sector notes that the Harkin strategy leaves room for further Republican demands on the Senate floor and in the House (Markup Roundup). What else do they have to ask for? I'm sure they'll think of something.
Title I Derland thinks that it made sense for Harkin to pull and replace his own bill over the weekend, given what happened to stall the Miller plan four years ago (The Lessons of 2007). Well, maybe, if you think movement is absolutely necessary.
If anything, Harkin seems to be working off the playbook of the Obama administration's first two years, during which the White House gave up tons to get its priorities done, sometimes offering concessions in advance of Republican demands. You see, Congressional Republicans might not relish hearing the President bash them for inaction -- Politics K-12 reminds us that this is indeed the plan -- but the Duncan waivers will bail Republicans as well as Democrats out in terms of giving relief states and districts. Republicans don't really need this reauthorization to go through, and neither does the White House. With the waivers in its pocket and the knowledge that the President could veto a bill if it was truly awful, the Duncan team seems generally unconcerned about the shape and speed of the reauthorization.
How much more Harkin (and perhaps Miller) will give up to get a bill through when their allies are so divided over the process is unclear. What happens if the reauthorization plays more than a passing role in the Presidential election is another unknown.