Congress Comes Back to Town: Faces Unfinished Business
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide update information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Money, Money Money … Follow the Money … to a Shutdown?
Congress does not officially reconvene until Monday, September 9. They return to the challenge of funding the government before the end of the Fiscal year, September 30. This means that in 13 legislative days the Senate would have to pass 12 separate funding bills, conference each one with the House and then secure President Trump’s signature on each one. What are the odds of that happening? Well, I’m not really a betting person, but I’d say “zero.”
The House left town in August having passed its funding bills, including a very generous one forLabor/HHS/Education. Educators were elated with the prospects of the funding levels in that bill. Unfortunately, the allocations—called 302(b)’s—for each of the 12 funding bills in the Senate are quite a bit less than they were in the House. So the Senate has less money to work with, particularly in the bill that funds education. Unfortunately, it looks like that House Labor/HHS/Education funding bill will serve as the high-water mark for education.
The Senate will begin its work on the 12 bills next week, with both the Labor/HHS/Education and Defense bills planned for markups in subcommittees on Tuesday, September 10, but after that, in all likelihood, Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running at current levels of funding. In fact, the House has announced that it will take up a bill the week of September 16 to pass a CR that will keep the government open beyond September 30. The bill will not include any funding for President Trump’s border wall, so whether the Senate will pass it and whether the President will sign it are open questions. A government shutdown remains a possibility.
September on Capitol Hill
Multiple hearings and markups will be held related to education during the 13 legislative days of September. All of these activities can be watched online by visiting the website of the Committee listed below. These include the following:
- Markup of Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education will markup this FY 2020 spending bill. Date: September 10.
- “A $1.5 Trillion Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers and Holding Student Loan Servicers Accountable” – The House Committee on Financial Services will consider what many consider questionable practices of loan servicers. For example, the TEACH grants have been problematically administered by FedLoan, which services them. Date: September 10.
- “The Importance of Trauma-Informed Practices in Education to Assist Students Impacted by Gun Violence and Other Adversities” – The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold this hearing. Date: September 11.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness – The House Committee on Education and Labor will examine this critical program in light of a new GAO report which was issued this week revealing that as of May 2019 the Department of Education processed about 54,000 requests for loan forgiveness in the previous year, approving only 1% of them. A representative of the Department of Education is expected to testify, among others. Date: September 19.
AACTE Education Policy Consultant