Congress Hits the Ground Running With Appropriations Work

House and Senate Move on Education Funding Bills

Congress returned from August recess and hit the ground running on its work funding the federal government as the September 30 deadline looms.

U.S. House of Representatives Action

You might recall that the House passed four appropriations bills as a single package at the end of July. The House determined it would move the eight remaining appropriations bills to the floor as a single package – including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) bill – immediately after August recess. A call for amendments went out in early August.

Representative David Price (D-NC) submitted the amendment he offered during the full appropriations committee markup, which would do the following:

  • Restore Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title II-A/Supporting Effective Instruction Grants to FY17 level of $2.1 billion
  • Restore School Leader Recruitment and Support to FY17 level of $14.5 million
  • Increase Supporting Effective Educator Development to FY17 level of $65 million (an increase of $23 million over the House level)
  • Restore Teacher Quality Partnerships to FY17 level of $43.092 million

In addition, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) offered an amendment to restore ESSA Title II-A funds. Reps. Price and Polis cosponsored each other’s amendments. However, both of these amendments were not made in order – meaning that they will not be considered by the full House through the amendment process. For more detailed information on this current House action, please see the House Committee on Rules, which determines the rules of debate for all bills and which amendments will be debated and for how long.

The House will consider amendments to the Labor-H bill sometime between September 7 and 9. Currently the House has alerted members of Congress to prepare to stay in Washington at least through Saturday – and that is always subject to change.

U.S. Senate Action

Also this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee took action on its Labor-H bill. First the subcommittee marked up its bipartisan bill on September 6 (see the majority’s press release and the minority’s press release). The full appropriations committee then marked up the Labor-H bill on September 7 with no amendments to the bill the subcommittee moved forward.

Key programs for educator preparation in the Senate bill:

  • Teacher Quality Partnership Grants: $38.1 million ($5 million cut)
  • ESSA Title II-A state grants: $2.056 billion (flat funded)
  • School Leader Recruitment and Retention program: Eliminated
  • Special Education Personnel Preparation grants: $83.7 million (flat funded)
  • Institute of Education Sciences: $600 million ($5 million cut)

Next Steps

The House will continue its work to complete all 12 appropriations bills through early September, setting its base for conference with the Senate. The Senate will not move all 12 bills by the end of September, so we can expect a continuing resolution (CR) to be passed through early to mid-December. Also at hand is the desire to raise the caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 for both defense and nondefense discretionary funds – but there’s plenty of contention to be had as that gets worked out (or not) as well. Funding to support the recovery from both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are also in the mix, as well as programs that expire at the end of the fiscal year, including flood insurance and the Perkins program.

Stay up to date by following my blogs in Ed Prep Matters, and be sure to register for the September Federal Update webinars (September 19 at 11:00 a.m. EDT and September 20 at 5:00 p.m. EDT). And be sure to sign up for AACTE’s Action Alerts so that you can easily engage with your members of Congress on matters important to the profession.

Also, feel free to e-mail me with questions on process, potential outcomes, or other issues that come up as you follow what’s happening in Washington, DC, related to educator preparation.

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Deborah Koolbeck

Senior Director of Government Relations, AACTE