Congressional Update – September 17, 2019
Congress Nears New Fiscal Year Without Budget in Place
The beginning of the next fiscal year is only two weeks away, but Congress has not completed work on the annual spending bills that fund government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. Compounding this problem, the Senate Appropriations Committee abruptly cancelled work that was planned for this week on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related Agencies spending bill, after a dispute arose over controversial policy “riders” or “poison pills” as they are often referred to in the media. To provide additional time for legislators to negotiate, congressional leaders are working to pass a “continuing resolution” to complete the fiscal year 2020 spending process. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) suggested that this temporary extension of fiscal year 2019 funding levels will last until November 21, but no official statement about the stopgap spending bill has been publicly released by House or Senate leaders. MSBA and NSBA are continuing to work independently and with our national partners to champion funding for the major education formula programs, including ESSA, Title I and II, IDEA Part B, and other key funding streams for school districts.
Senate Appropriation Committee Releases Proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Spending
The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted fiscal year 2020 proposed spending levels for all 12 annual spending bills this week:
- Agriculture-FDA: $23.1 billion
- Financial Services: $24.2 billion
- Commerce-Justice-Science: $78.9 billion
- Defense: $693 billion
- Labor-HHS-Education: $187.7 billion (a 1.04% increase compared to FY’19)
- Homeland Security: $53.4 billion
- Energy-Water: $48.9 billion
- Interior-Environment: $35.8 billion
- State-Foreign Operations: $55 billion
- Transportation-HUD:$74.3 billion
- Military Construction-VA: $105.5 billion
- Legislative Branch: $5.1 billion
The amount allocated for the Labor-HHS-Education bill is approximately 5% below the total provided in the similar House-passed bill. This significant gap will set the stage for difficult House-Senate negotiations later in the appropriations process. MSBA and NSBA will be fighting hard for the House approved level.
House Education and Labor Committee Democrats Publish Equity Report
Democrats of the House Education and Labor Committee, led by Chairman Bobby Scott, published a report this week titled “Investing in Economic Mobility: The Important Role of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Closing Racial and Wealth Gaps in Higher Education” focusing on funding levels. The report notes that funding levels have consistently fallen short of what is needed to fulfill the promise of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The report notes that Congress “must provide the resources and support necessary to ensure historically underserved students access and complete college.”
Appropriations Subcommittees Plan Children’s Mental Health and STEM Hearings
The House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on September 18 titled “Mental Health Needs of Children in HHS Custody.” Witnesses will include Jonathan Hayes (Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Department of Health and Human Services), Ann Maxwell (Assistant Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services), and Jonathan White (Commander, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Department of Health and Human Services). Watch the livestream here.
TheHouse Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on September 19 titled “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Engagement”. Witnesses will include Michael Kincaid (Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement, National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Dr. Karen Marrongelle (Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Education and Human Resources). Watch the livestreamhere.
The Education and Labor Committee’s markup scheduled for this Wednesday is posted with the text of H.R. 4301, the “School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act.” The Education and Labor Committee has updated the webpage for Wednesday’s markup of the school safety bill. The updated link is available here: edlabor.house.gov/hearings/…