The House Appropriations Committee advanced, by a vote of 30-22, fiscal year 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) spending bill, which would provide a total of $73.5 billion in discretionary funds for the Department of Education (ED), an increase of $716 million from fiscal year 2020 and $6.9 billion from President Donald Trump’s budget request.
During Monday’s markup the committee considered a number of amendments to the measure including a substitute amendment, that was adopted by voice vote, from Labor-H Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) that would make a number of noncontroversial changes to the bill and had bipartisan agreement.
Throughout their debate, members touted investments made in a number of student aid programs, with the measure providing a $45 million increase over enacted fiscal year 2020 levels, including additional funding for federal TRIO and GEAR UP.
“These programs are lifelines to low-income students who are often the first in their families to go to college. I know there is deep support on both sides of the aisle for these initiatives,” DeLauro said.
DeLauro also used her time to criticize Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s recent remarks on pushing schools to resume in-person instruction this fall, as they plot out how to operate during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“In some states around the nation with a virus that is out of control, we cannot simply open schools based on the statements of the secretary of education,” DaLauro said. “Secretary DeVos has no national plan and is unwilling to answer the question of whether schools should follow CDC guidelines.”
The committee plans to wrap up all twelve of their fiscal year 2021 spending bills this week but until the Senate schedules their markups, the process will largely remain stalled and could easily force Congress, facing a presidential election year along with the ongoing health and economic ramifications of the novel coronavirus, to rely on a continuing resolution with the September 30 funding deadline rapidly approaching.
Congress had to rely on a number of continuing resolutions last year to complete its appropriations work, but managed to wrap up all 12 spending bills by the end of December. In staving off a government shutdown, fiscal 2020 spending included a $150 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, and addressed ongoing issues with federal loan servicers and foreign gift reporting requirements.
Publication Date: 7/14/2020