By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter
Congressional leaders staved off an impending threat of a government shutdown by passing another short-term spending bill that will keep federal agencies operational through Feb. 18, 2022.
The continuing resolution alleviates some year-end pressure for Congress to address spending priorities, but now cuts into the fiscal year, which began on October 1, and shortens the timeframe for members to make potentially far-reaching policy changes and funding levels for the Department of Education (ED).
In previous years, the appropriations process has served as a legislative vehicle for enacting a host of policy changes. For this year’s package, there’s been language floated that could offer significant increases for the Pell Grant program, increased funding for campus-based aid programs, and codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
While the prospect of such a wide-ranging package still has potential, it is unlikely to garner much action until the new year when the latest self-imposed deadline approaches and pressures leadership to act. And with 2022 being an election year, policies left up in the air by this year’s end could easily slip to the agenda of a new Congress that might have less of an appetite for bolstering certain programs.
In the meantime, congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden are looking to finalize their party’s Build Back Better plan, which has been subject to a floating deadline and could see action in the coming weeks — or be further delayed should a number of policy provisions face further obstacles in reaching agreement or be deemed subject to parliamentary procedures in the Senate that could alter the scope of the bill.
Stay tuned to Today’s News for more developments on the annual appropriations process.
Publication Date: 12/6/2021
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