Senate approves Education Jobs Bill

The U.S. Senate voted 61-39 today, August 5, to approve legislation that will save 138,000 educators’ jobs nationwide and more than 2,000 in Massachusetts. Two Republicans – though not Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown – crossed party lines to vote in favor of the final bill. Brown also voted against moving the bill to the floor on Wednesday, when 61 votes were finally mustered to end a threatened Republican filibuster.

Senator John Kerry, who has been a leader on this issue in the Senate, voted in favor.

After Wednesday’s critical vote in the Senate, Governor Deval Patrick said that when the bill is finally enacted, “I can tell you that my first choice will be to support public schools and to get as many teachers back in the classroom as possible, doing what they do best.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she is calling House members back from recess next week to give the bill final approval in the House. Previous versions have already been passed by the House and swift approval is expected.

“We want to thank all of the members who contacted Senator Brown in the hopes of persuading him to switch his vote on behalf of students and educators in Massachusetts,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “We also want to thank Senator Kerry for his leadership in the Senate and all of our House members for their steadfast support.” He also thanked MTA member John Lynch, a Brockton teacher who joined him in Washington, D.C., to lobby for the bill.

The bill contains $10 billion to save educators’ jobs and $16.2 billion for the Federal Medicaid Assistance Program. Combined, they will bring $655 million to Massachusetts this year, $204 million of which is targeted to restore educator jobs.

Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins were the two who crossed party lines to vote in favor of cloture.

Brown had said in the past he would oppose the measures if they would add to the deficit. After the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the bills will actually reduce the budget deficit by $1.4 billion over the next decade because they were coupled with closing certain corporate tax loopholes and cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, Brown nonetheless voted no.