Congressional Democrats amended the House’s summer recess to lay the groundwork for advancing a pair of spending plans that would make significant investments in a number of higher education policies.
On August 24, the House briefly returned to session and approved a $3.5 trillion blueprint containing policies housed within President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, that would invest $12 billion in community college infrastructure, and his American Families Plan that would provide two years of free community college, as well as tuition breaks, to low- and moderate-income students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority serving institutions (MSIs).
The party line vote of 220-212 further advances the reconciliation process where committee chairs will now begin to write the actual spending plan with specific limits over the next few weeks. The agreement also aimed to placate concerns from more moderate Democrats by committing to pass the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure package by September 27.
“Today’s vote advances the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of new jobs while simultaneously unlocking the potential for Congress to make historic investments in our future,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor. “It is a step closer to affordable child care, universal pre-K, and more funding to fight child hunger. It is a step closer to better and safer schools, affordable higher education, and high-quality job training that will help rebuild America’s middle class.”
The timeline for these packages is ambitious for congressional leaders but is not as binding as the annual appropriations process, which will need to be dealt with by September 30 to keep the government operational. House appropriators have already drafted and approved a bill that would offer 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.
Senate leaders have yet to draft their fiscal year 2022 spending plan for ED.
The Senate and House are now scheduled to be back in session in mid-September and aim to triage these legislative agenda items with varying deadlines now more firmly in place.
Stay tuned to Today’s News for more developments on these spending plans.
Publication Date: 8/26/2021