Congress Moves Forward on Education Funding for FY 2022
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Congress Cranks into Gear to Move Budget and Appropriations Bills
This week, education advocates were pleased to learn that the Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee in the House will be marking up their FY 2022 spending bill on July 12. This represents the first significant move toward the September 30 finish line when new funding levels need to be determined. Education advocates are holding their breath, hoping to see the massive education spending investments requested by President Biden reflected in the House bill. His request includes a 41% increase for the Department of Education and significant new investments to address issues in the teacher pipeline, including unprecedented increases in funding for educator preparation programs.
The House Appropriations Committee announced that it will begin marking up their 12 funding bills on June 24 next week with the goal of completing all markups by July 16. Then the full House would vote on the bills in August, passing the baton over to the Senate. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said he hopes to begin markups in July. Even though the House is expected to pass all 12 of the funding bills well before the September 30 end of the fiscal year deadline, many assume the Senate will not act quickly enough to complete them on time. This all-too-common scenario paves the way for a continuing resolution, or a simple extension of existing funding levels, beyond September 30.
What remains to be seen is the potential impact earmarks may have on members’ alignment with the spending bills. As reported in a past Washington Update, earmarks have made their return in the federal government after a 10 year ban. In essence, earmarks are congressionally directed funding to specific projects in the district or state of the Member of Congress who requests the earmark. They are then included in appropriations bills and have often been used to garner the support of members who may be otherwise hesitant to vote “yes” on the funding proposal. House lawmakers have submitted hundreds of funding requests for the fiscal 2022 spending bills. The list of projects that will be included in each House measure will be released the same day as a bill’s subcommittee markup.
This week Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education making his pitch for the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic funding proposal. In a statement, Cardona highlighted the importance of equity and investment in our nation’s education system stating “We must do more to level the playing field, including providing a strong foundation from birth, improving diversity among the teacher workforce, and creating learning pathways that work for all students. To that end, the fiscal year 2022 budget proposal for the Department of Education provides strong investments in key areas to ensure students of all ages have what they need to succeed.”
Meanwhile, plans for the budget resolution—which is supposed to proceed the consideration of appropriations bills—continue. The budget resolution sets spending caps for the next Fiscal Year, informing the Appropriations Committees how much money is available to allocate. The budget resolution is also the mechanism that can establish a path forward for a reconciliation bill—a bill that requires only 51, rather than the usual 60, votes to pass in the Senate. Passage of a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions would open the way for the abandonment of the ongoing bipartisan talks intended to produce an infrastructure package. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has indicated he is preparing to move forward with or without bipartisan support on both the budget and associated infrastructure package. Leader Schumer convened a meeting with all 11 Democratic members of the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday to jumpstart the process for passing a budget resolution. “As you know, a budget resolution will outline how we go forward and includes issues that are affecting, that are part of reconciliation,” he said. Reconciliation could set the stage for passing a massive infrastructure investment bill, and possibly the American Families Plan, after the August recess with only Democratic votes.