Sen. Menendez, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Fully Fund Special Education Nationally

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) joined Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act. This legislation would finally ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In 1975, Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity. This law was a historic step forward, but since its passage Congress has failed to provide the funding it promised.

Under IDEA, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at less than 13 percent. According to the Congressional Research Service, the IDEA shortfall in the 2021-2022 school year nationwide was $23.92 billion. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular, mandatory increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our obligation to America’s children and schools. It is cosponsored by more than 20 Senators and over 60 House members.

“A good quality education is about opening the doors of opportunity for every child, including those with disabilities,” said Sen. Menendez. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bicameral legislation to ensure students with disabilities have access to high-quality, well-funded special education regardless of their zip code. This bill will help level the playing field for students and Congress should work towards its swift passage.”

Sen. Menendez has strongly supported people with disabilities, working diligently to deliver safe transit options, education and protections to New Jersey’s most vulnerable and underserved communities. Last month, Sen. Menendez and Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01) reintroduced the bicameral Disability Access to Transportation Act, legislation that would establish a one-stop pilot program to help paratransit riders avoid excessive wait times between multiple trips, streamline the process for submitting accessibility complaints, and assist local communities with identifying gaps in transportation accessibility.

In 2022, Sens. Menendez and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) were joined by ten of their Senate colleagues in introducing the International Children with Disabilities Protection Act, legislation to bolster U.S. support for children with disabilities, helping improve the capacity of local disabilities rights organizations and families of children with disabilities around the world to advocate for necessary reforms.

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