House committee passes the READ Act, emphasizing the importance of global education

August 1, 2022
by Katie Fleischer, Advocacy Associate

Last week the House of Representatives took an important step towards supporting global basic education. Led by Chairman Meeks (D-NY) and Ranking Member McCaul (R-TX), the House Foreign Affairs committee passed the READ Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R.7240) by a voice vote.

This bipartisan bill, introduced by Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) and by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), extends the 2017 READ Act for an additional 5 years. The READ Act transformed the global education sphere by making USAID’s education strategy more effective and impactful. Thanks to the Act, USAID released a new strategy focused on expanding equitable access to education, and their programs reached more than 33.4 million students in 73 countries in 2021.

Now, the Reauthorization Act would extend our government’s commitment to global education, and continue evaluating USAID’s impact on marginalized communities. At the committee markup, Representative Bass passionately defended her bill, saying 

“Basic education is unequivocally one of the most important resources young people need to grow into the strong leaders, doctors, business owners, and economic contributors of their nations. Basic education is a global human right, and we must continue to lead the effort to ensure that all young people have adequate access to that right, especially now given the major impact COVID-19 has had on the education system.”

Chairman Meeks also spoke up for the bill, emphasizing that global education must be a U.S. priority as we recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF research shows that school closures are still affecting more than 616 million students. This education gap will have a devastating impact on marginalized communities around the world. 

You can watch the committee’s discussion of the bill here:

Now that the Read Act Reauthorization has passed through committee, it’s one step closer to becoming law. This is a great sign that the U.S. will continue to support basic education programs around the world. But our work isn’t done yet. Next, we need to ask our Representatives to sign on as cosponsors, and encourage House leadership to bring the bill to the floor for a full vote. We also need to continue the fight in the Senate, asking Senators to sign on as cosponsors to demonstrate their support for this critical bill.

You can track the progress of the Read Act Reauthorization Act, and check if your members of Congress are supporters. Rep. Bass specifically mentioned the support of 38 organizations– including RESULTS– in her defense of the bill, so we know that our advocacy is working. Now we need to keep it up. Access to basic education has never been so important, and the READ Act is a great way to ensure that resources reach the most marginalized communities. Reauthorizing the Act for another 5 years will make U.S. foreign aid more effective and greatly impact the lives of millions of students worldwide.

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