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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) offered a bipartisan amendment at the HELP Committee markup of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 to improve and expand early learning programs. The amendment would create a competitive grant program for states that want to improve early childhood education coordination, quality, and access, and would target resources for low- and moderate-income families. Murray introduced the amendment with Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Mark Kirk (R-IL). The amendment passed the HELP Committee by a voice vote. 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks prior to the vote, as prepared: 

“I’m pleased to offer this bipartisan amendment with my good friend Senator Johnny Isakson to improve and expand early learning programs. 

“As a former preschool teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the kind of transformation that early learning can inspire in a child.

“It gives kids a strong foundation – not just to start kindergarten ready to learn, but also to succeed later in life. And the long-term benefits of early learning makes preschool programs some of the smartest investments we can make. 

“Democratic and Republican governors and state lawmakers are already making investments in early learning.  It’s time for Congress to catch up. 

“This amendment would create a competitive grant program for states that want to improve early childhood education coordination, quality, and access. 

“The program would target resources to low- and moderate-income families, and would improve coordination of existing funds. 

“This amendment will help us expand access to high quality early childhood education, so more kids can start kindergarten ready to learn.

“I want to thank Senator Isakson for working with me. And I encourage my colleagues to support this amendment to make sure more kids and families have access to high-quality early learning opportunities.”