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House Committee Appropriations Bill Delivers Home Run for Ed Prep

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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. 

It’s been a week for celebration for education advocates. The House Appropriations Committee delivered on President’ Biden’s goal of a 41% increase for education for next year.  This unprecedented investment is beyond gratifying. It feels like the decades of advocating that we have all been engaged in has really paid off! We still have a long way to go, but we are out of the gate with great momentum!

House Appropriations Committee Approves FY2022 Education Spending Bill

On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. The Committee voted in favor of the bill by vote of 33 to 25,  a party line vote. No substantial amendments were made to any education provisions during the full committee markup.

The bill includes historic increases for education from the FY 2021 level—a 41% increase for the Department of Education which would bring the Department’s total budget to $102.8 billion. The increase matches President Biden’s education request. The bill is clear evidence that the president’s historic request is in alignment with the thinking of House Democrats. In a statement, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said, “This bill touches people at every stage of their lives, and the massive funding increase will create a society that provides people with the help they so desperately need.”

But, the road to getting a final bill to President Biden is far from over, with Republicans questioning federal agencies capacity to manage such funds.  Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), the top Republican on the Subcommittee, said a bipartisan spending deal would include less domestic spending, more defense spending, and Democrats abandoning their effort to repeal the Hyde Amendment, a provision that prevents federal funds from paying for most abortions.

“The alternative is a fight, and a fight means a continuing resolution,” Cole said. “That would mean we would end up passing the budget of the last president and last Congress instead of working together to find common ground.”

It is nearly impossible to overstate what this bill could mean for education.

The bill includes $36 billion for Title I, $2.3 billion for Title II, $1.3 billion for Minority Serving Institutions, $1 billion for new Mental Health personnel, and $17.2 billion for IDEA. In the critical area of addressing the distressing state of the pipeline of educators, the bill delivers significant infusions of funds, more than we have ever seen in an appropriations bill.  For IDEA Personnel Preparation, the bill provides for $250 million—a nearly 177% increase to the FY2021 level. Other preparation programs received significant increases also. The alignment between the House Bill and the President’s FY2022 discretionary request is reflective of the synergy between the Administration and House Democrats in their commitment to addressing the challenges related to the shortage of diverse and well-prepared educators ready to meet the needs of all students.

Key Programs Related to Educator Support and Preparation

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday that the full House will take up the Agriculture, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD measures in one bundle the week of July 26. Together, the bills represent about 40% of the proposed operating budgets for federal agencies next year.

If you recall, the president’s full budget request included funding for a range of new programs and additional mandatory spending through the American Families Plan for a number of programs across the Department of Education—none of which were included in the House Bill. But, that doesn’t mean those programs or funding are off the table This week, top Democratic lawmakers announced they had reached an agreement on a $3.5 trillion top line budget number for a reconciliation bill. The reconciliation bill is expected to contain some of the funding for programs President Biden requested by way of the American Families Plan and can be passed with the support of all Democrats, even if all Republicans oppose it. Advocates are pushing to ensure that the $9 billion in the American Families Plan to support teachers and address the educator pipeline is included in the reconciliation bill. Stay tuned for next steps. 

Read the full Washington Update on my website for more information. Follow us on  Twitter @janewestdc and @brennan_kait.

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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant