Students may be looking forward to slightly smaller classes than previously feared this fall. In a special session that interrupted the summer recess, the House of Representatives passed a $26 billion bill this afternoon. The bill will save an estimated 160,000 public jobs, particularly teachers and emergency-response workers. The bill will be signed into the law this evening by President Obama.
Although the bill should not add to the national deficit, Republican leaders declared it fiscally irresponsible. It has also been criticized as pandering to teachers unions. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fl, called the bill a “transparent handout to the teachers union” financed by “sham accounting gimmicks.”
The president addressed the teacher layoffs this morning at the White House before the bill was passed. Although votes strayed little from party lines, Obama said the loss of teachers “should not be a Democratic problem or a Republican problem. It’s an American problem.”