House Passes Education Spending Plan, Now Awaits Senate Response as Deadline Approaches

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The House on Friday passed 217-197, its fiscal year 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) spending bill. While the chamber has now advanced more than half of its annual spending bills, the Senate has yet to formally start the process, increasing the likelihood that Congress is careening toward a continuing resolution to fund programs housed under the Department of Education (ED) past September 30. 

The House measure would provide a total of $73.5 billion in discretionary funds for ED, an increase of $716 million from fiscal year 2020 and $6.9 billion from President Donald Trump’s budget request.

“The school year approaches. The White House chooses to make that a political battle to threaten schools and teachers. Instead of beating them down, we are lifting them up, to invest in them so they can meet the challenge that faces them,” said Labor-H Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in urging the House to advance the measure.

Due to the narrowed congressional calendar and additional spending being debated to address the novel coronavirus, there’s a possibility that the spending bills and aid measures could be combined, but much remains uncertain for the upcoming congressional negotiations.

The House was slated to begin its August recess after this week’s session, but Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told members that due to Congress’s failure to reach an agreement on another coronavirus aid package, additional district work would be required.

“We will not start the August district work period until we pass appropriate COVID-19 relief,” Hoyer said, telling members they will be given 24 hours’ notice for any additional votes.

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.

For more information on the federal budget process, see NASFAA’s Federal Budget and Appropriations page and NASFAA’s budget FAQs


Publication Date: 7/31/2020

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