Senate Releases Text for Fiscal Year 2023 Spending Bill

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The Senate Appropriations committee on Thursday formally unveiled the draft text of its annual spending plan that contains $87.3 billion in base discretionary funding for the Department of Education (ED).

The Senate’s proposal marks an increase of $7.248 billion above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, however those top-line numbers come in $1 billion less than President Joe Biden’s initial budget request.

In keeping with previous spending cycles, the process has faced a number of delays, but this year both chambers have been able to release their spending proposals before the end of the fiscal year.

“It is my hope that by releasing these bills, and making clear what the priorities of Senate Democrats are, we can take a step closer toward reaching a bipartisan compromise after months of stalled negotiations,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee. “The stakes of inaction are too high to not complete our work.”

According to the Senate Appropriations committee, its package of annual spending bills would provide for a 10.1% increase for non-defense discretionary programs, an 8.7% increase for defense programs, and a 22% increase for Department of Veterans Affairs medical care.

Specifically, the Senate’s text would include a $500 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, which would boost the 2023-24 maximum award to $7,395. This level of funding is the same as the increase in discretionary funding included in both Biden’s discretionary budget request and the education spending bill advanced by the House Appropriations committee last month. Appropriators also made a point to highlight that the bill would include a new general provision making Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients eligible for Pell Grants and federal student loans.

The bill also proposes just over $2.6 billion for student aid administration, which includes $2.3 million to conduct outreach to borrowers eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, as well as funding to "modernize and simplify student loan servicing." 

The bill would also include:

— $915 million for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, $20 million more than the fiscal year 2022 level and Biden’s budget request; and $1.235 billion for the Federal Work-Study program, $25 million more than the fiscal year 2022 level and Biden’s budget request.

— $1.275 billion for TRIO, an increase of $138 million over the fiscal year 2022 level, which will support an increase for each TRIO program, including funding down the slate of high-quality applications from previous competitions.

— $1.1 billion for Aid for Institutional Development programs, which includes funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), an increase of $219 million over fiscal year 2022.

The House Appropriations committee advanced its Labor-H bill at the end of June. Their version contains an overall request of $86.7 billion in discretionary funding for ED, an increase of $10.3 billion above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level, but $1.6 billion less than President Joe Biden’s request for fiscal year 2023.

That spending bill is still being packaged by the House and it is unclear whether the chamber will be able to pass the Labor-H spending levels before the August recess. House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) recently said a short-term extension of the spending deadline would be “inevitable” due to the delayed process.

Congressional leadership will now need to figure out how to advance spending talks before the September 30 deadline or be forced to resort to short-term spending bills to keep the government operational. 

Stay tuned to Today’s News as we keep tabs on the legislative landscape in the weeks ahead.

 

Publication Date: 7/29/2022


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