August 4, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Senate Cloture Vote on Jobs Bill
WASHINGTON—The Senate took an important step forward today for students in our public schools. By voting to invoke cloture on legislation to provide $10 billion to save hundreds of thousands of educator jobs and $16 billion for Medicaid assistance, the Senate—thanks to 61 senators including two Republicans—moved closer to passing legislation that will provide an educational lifeline to kids and a financial lifeline to school districts and states.
We can’t ‘race to the top’ if the bottom is falling out for school districts across the country. Make no mistake about it—for every layoff, every day that’s cut from a school week, every course or program that’s dropped, children are hurt. That is why we are so grateful that the Senate demonstrated its support for kids and their education. By approving additional Medicaid assistance, states facing perilous budget situations will get the help they need to avoid making a new round of cuts to vital public services in their communities.
Today’s vote brings us closer to helping our schools and struggling families. It is unfortunate that providing necessary help to those in need has become an either-or proposition. This package should have been, and could have been, dealt with as temporary, emergency spending rather than as funding requiring offsets that pit programs—those that help our children and struggling Americans—against one another.
We are grateful for the steadfast efforts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to push legislation to protect our children's future and maintain vital public services in their communities. We also appreciate the independence of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in voting with all Democratic senators in support of cloture.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.