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Senate Adjourns,
IDEA Reauthorization Postponed
December 2, 2003

Congress adjourned for the holidays without reauthorizing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Since the bill did not come up for a vote before the holiday recess, there will be no activity on IDEA reauthorization until Congress returns in January, 2004.

Consent Agreement

On November 21, 2003, the Senate passed a unanimous consent agreement that locked in the of amendments allowed when Senate Bill 1248 comes to the floor. This agreement will remain in force until the end of the 108th Congress.

The consent agreement limits the amendments to be considered on Senate 1248 (IDEA reauthorization). The allowed amendments include:

  • Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) on IDEA attorney fees
  • Sen. Judd Gregg on IDEA funding
  • Sen. Judd Gregg on IDEA paperwork reduction
  • Unknown Republican amendment
  • Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) on IDEA funding
  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on IDEA for the homeless
  • Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) on coordinating data on developmental disabilities
  • Unknown Democratic amendment


We do not know the substance of the amendments that will be proposed. Legislative experts anticipate an attempt to limit attorney fees.

Some Republicans argue that special education attorneys prey on unsuspecting parents. However, special education law is a not a lucrative branch of law unless the attorney represents school districts.

Because rights to counsel and representation are at the core of civil rights protections, most advocates view an attack on attorney fees as an attack on parents.

Source: IDEA Rapid Response Network (RRN), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) (See RRN #30 at www.dredf.org for analysis of specific provisions in the S. 1248).

IDEA Reauthorization Links

For news, progress reports, and other important information about the IDEA Reauthorization, go to the IDEA Reauthorization page.

To learn more about the issues, including reports, surveys and recommendations about how the law may be changed, please visit the IDEA Resources page.

If you want to receive briefings from the IDEA Rapid Response Network, please visit www.dredf.org and complete the online subscription form.

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