Washington Update: Budget and Appropriations

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.

After a 10-day Memorial Day recess, Congress returned for a brief three-day session and then hit the road again. They will roar back into town next week with a plate full of funding issues to address.

  1. Budget and Appropriations: House on the Move!

The House

Democrats are vigorously exercising their hard-won majority in the House by moving rapidly on spending bills for FY 2020. By early next week all 12 appropriations bills will have moved through Committee markups and be ready to go to the House floor. House leadership has announced its intent to see all 12 bills passed by the end of June! 

Last year, you will recall, the strategy of pairing the Labor/HHS/Education funding bill with the Defense funding bill was successful in garnering bi-partisan votes, thus avoiding the government shutdown for the Department of Education. This strategy remains in play this year, and looks to be amplified.

On Wednesday the House has scheduled a single vote on a package of five appropriations bills, including the one with education spending, the Labor/HHS/Education bill, H.R. 2740. Other bills in the package (called a minibus) are Defense, Energy-Water, State-Foreign Operations and Legislative Branch.

The Senate

On to the Senate. The markup for their first appropriations bill is likely to be the end of June.  It will probably be the package of the Labor/HHS/Education spending bill and the Defense spending bill. Still in the offing is a final agreement on the budget caps. The House created their own caps, which allowed for generous education spending. The Senate caps will not be so generous. In order for bills to be finalized, the House and Senate must agree on the same budget caps. So, sadly, the funding levels in the House bill serve as high water marks.

Stay tuned for more developments!

See the following:

 H.R. 2740 Division-By-Division Summary

The bill text and 60 amendments filed with the House Rules Committee

  1. House Bill would Require DC Voucher Program to Comply with IDEA and other Civil Rights Laws

The federal government funds only one voucher program—in the District of Columbia. The voice of advocates outraged that federal dollars could be used for programs which do not have to comply with federal civil rights laws has been heard by House Democrats. One of the House spending bills—Financial Services—includes funding for this program and this year adds language requiring voucher schools to certify that they are complying with IDEA and other federal civil rights laws. This is a first! 

See pages 63-64

  1. New Resource for Educators

The Institute for Education Sciences is out with The Condition of Education 2019 which is chocked full of new data, including the fact that the number of students served under IDEA increased from 6.4 million to 7.0 million between 2011-12 and 2017-8 bringing the percentage of special education students from 13% to 14% of total public school enrollment. See the article, Nation’s Schools Serving More Students Under IDEA, and the IES report.

Continue reading the full Washington Update on my website to learn more.

See you on twitter @janewestdc.

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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant