ED Sees 41% Increase in Annual House Spending But Spending Levels and Policy Riders Could Stall Enactment

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter 

The House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations Subcommittee on Monday forwarded their fiscal year 2022 spending plan to the full appropriations committee.

The bill contains an overall 41% increase above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level for Department of Education (ED) programs, matching the president’s budget request of $102.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for ED.

Specifically, the measure would provide a $2.6 billion increase for student aid programs, including an increase in the maximum Pell Grant by $400 that would boost the 2022-23 maximum award to $6,895. This $400 increase in discretionary funding is the same as the increase included in President Biden’s discretionary budget request.

The bill also includes increases for the campus-based aid programs, boosting Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) funding to $1.03 billion and increasing Federal Work-Study (FWS) spending to $1.43 billion. The funding levels proposed in the bill for SEOG and FWS are $148 million and $244 million more than fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending, respectively, and are far greater than the SEOG and FWS funding included in the Administration’s budget request, which proposed maintaining FY 2021 spending levels for both programs.

The spending plan also provides higher education programs with an increase of $889 million above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level by allocating $1.3 billion for Federal TRIO programs, and $408 million for GEAR UP.

Career technical education (CTE) would be funded at $2.2 billion, which is an increase of $208 million from the enacted level of fiscal year 2021.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) fully endorsed the totality of the measure and specifically praised investments being made in higher education.

“I'm also proud of the serious investments made in this bill to make post secondary education more affordable for students with low incomes, with a $400 increase made to the maximum Pell Grant, the foundation of our student aid system, we give students a fighting chance at the American dream, and a brighter future,” DeLauro, who also leads the full committee, said.

The subcommittee markup was amicable and Republicans touted areas of agreement with subcommittee ranking member Tom Cole (R-Okla.) highlighting shared interests in funding special education programs as well as TRIO and GearUp to help first-generation students complete college.

However, the spending bill is highly unlikely to garner much, if any, support from Republicans. While leaders from the minority were complimentary towards DeLauro’s leadership they took issue with the overall spending level and a number of so-called poison pills related to provisions concerning health care, labor laws and immigration that accompany the ED spending levels.

Cole referred to the spending levels as “utterly unrealistic” and made it clear that the package would not clear both chambers of congress as currently drafted.

“Madam Chair, you know the Democrats in Congress do not have the majorities capable of passing this bill on their own,” Cole said. “In the days and weeks ahead it is my hope that members on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers can negotiate spending that is reasonable and will not lead to financial disaster.”

The committee is expected to consider the measure during a full committee markup on Thursday July 15 where members will likely engage in extensive debate surrounding amendments to the bill.


Publication Date: 7/13/2021

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