An anti-Common Core budget amendment passed a Senate vote Thursday, allowing states to opt-out of the educational standards without penalty from the federal government. The amendment would also prohibit the federal government from "mandating, incentivizing, or coercing" states into adopting Common Core or any other standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or instruction programs.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — all potential or declared Republican presidential candidates — voted in favor of the amendment. On the Democratic side, potential presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., voted against the amendment.
Requiring only a simple majority, the amendment passed with 54 in favor and 46 against on a straight party line vote.
The amendment was sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who is running for governor of Louisiana, and co-sponsored by Cruz and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
Speaking in favor of the bill, Vitter said, "The U.S. Department of Education should not be able to bribe or coerce states into any particular set of standards or curriculum or testing, whether it's Common Core or anything else. That decision should be up to states. That decision should be up to local education communities, not the federal government."
Speaking against, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said:
All students should have access to a quality public education regardless of where they live or how they learn or how much money they make and education is one of the smartest investments we can make. Now Chairman Alexander and I are working together, on a bipartisan process, to fix the broken No Child Left Behind law and I believe that we are going to make progress in the coming weeks and I appreciate his working with me … This amendment isn't needed. The Common Core was not mandated by the federal government. Race to the Top did not mandate adoption of Common Core. [No Child Left Behind] waivers have not mandated the Common Core. Federal law already prohibits the federal government from requiring states to adopt certain standards and curriculum.
The Obama administration pushed many states into adopting Common Core through Race to the Top funding and waivers from the burdens of No Child Left Behind. If signed into law, this amendment would bar Obama or any future presidential administration from doing the same.
All but seven states have adopted Common Core: Alaska, Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.
The vote is largely symbolic, as budgets merely set guideposts for Congress later on when it begins passing appropriations for fiscal 2016.