Budget Outlook Murky Following Election

By Stephen Payne, Policy & Federal Relations Staff

Following last week’s election, in which Republicans took the presidency and held control of Congress, the outlook for appropriations action for fiscal year (FY) 2017 remains unclear. The FY2017 appropriation funds federal student aid programs for award year 2017-18.

Republican leaders in Congress must now decide between passing a large spending package in the remaining “lame-duck” session of Congress or kicking the can down the road and passing a continuing resolution (CR) that level-funds the government into the start of President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. At that point, Republicans would have greater leverage to pass their own budget priorities.

Regardless of the path taken, Congress will need to act by December 9, the deadline created in the last continuing resolution passed in September, to keep the government open.

If Congress does decide to press forward on passing a spending package before the start of the Trump administration, we could see the return of the year-round Pell Grant. Included in the bipartisan Senate appropriations bill passed through committee in June, year-round Pell has the strong support of Republicans, Democrats, and higher education advocates. NASFAA submitted a letter to appropriations leaders in October outlining support for the restoration of year-round Pell in the Senate bill, which resolves some of the implementation challenges in the last short-lived iteration of year-round Pell.

If Congress instead decides to wait until President-elect Trump takes office in January to work out a spending plan for FY2017, we can expect at least some of the Republican higher education policy provisions that were blocked by Democrats in previous years to return. These include provisions included in the House appropriations bill passed out of committee in July blocking the Department of Education (ED) from moving forward with or enforcing several regulations, including gainful employment, state authorization, teacher preparation, and the definition of credit hour. Whether Democrats in the Senate would be able to muster enough support to oppose those provisions through filibuster is unknown.

Stay tuned to Today’s News for updates on the budget and appropriations process as it moves forward and for continued coverage of Congress and the incoming Trump administration. To learn more, visit NASFAA’s Budget and Appropriations page for background information and a news archive.


Publication Date: 11/16/2016

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