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Congress Heads Home with Bipartisan Accomplishment

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.

Congress is heading out of town—the House leaving today for a six-week recess and the Senate leaving at the end of next week. With the amazing budget deal headed for the finish line, September promises to be full of appropriations bills, including the education funding bill we’ve all been waiting for.

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Unbelievable:  Congress and the White House Make a Deal on 2 Year Budget Caps and Debt Ceiling

In a stunning proactive bipartisan move, the Congress and the White House have agreed to a two-year budget deal. This frees up all lawmakers and the president to focus on the 2020 elections without the threat of a government shutdown. Key features of the deal include the following: 

  • The budget caps are raised for both Defense and Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD – where education resides) spending for FY 2020 and FY 2021
  • For NDD, this represents a 4.1%,or $24.5 billion increase over the current level of spending for FY 2020
    • This $24.5 billion must be divided between many program areas—education being one of them
  • The budget caps in the deal are lower than the ones used in the House, which enabled robust increases for some education programs
  • If a deal had not been reached, $126 billion in cuts across the board would have occurred in January 2020
  • The debt ceiling (maximum amount the federal government can borrow) is raised until July 31, 2021—well after the 2020 election

The House passed the budget deal by a vote of 284 to 149. The majority of Republican House members (132) voted against the deal (believing it is too much spending) while 219 Democrats supported the package. Many consider this a great victory for the Democrats and Speaker Pelosi (D-CA).

President Trump has indicated that he supports the deal, paving the way for the Republican-controlled Senate to pass it next week. You will recall that the House has already passed all 12 of its appropriations bills; and the Senate has not acted on any of them, as it was waiting for an agreement on the budget caps. Now that that agreement is complete, Sen. Shelby (R-AL), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, will begin to set the individual caps for each of the 12 bills. Education advocates are promoting a significant increase for the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill. Once the cap is set for that bill, education advocates will work to see increases in individual programs.  September is likely to feature the passage of all 12 appropriations bills. The end of the fiscal year is September 30, 2019, so the pressure will be on to move quickly.  

Learn more.

New Resources for Educators 

Americans witrh Disabilitiies Act Signing Ceremony PhotoToday is the 29th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act!  It was such an honor to be at the White House that day. Can you recognize me in the photo below?  That was 29 years ago folks!

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

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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant