House Education Bill Guts Title IIA

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Analysis of House Appropriations Labor HHS Education Subcommittee’s FY18 Appropriations Bill

Last night, the House Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over federal education spending marked up its FY18 appropriations bill draft. The bill provides $43.5 billion in spending for education, representing a $2.4 billion cut over last year’s funding level, and completely eliminates Title IIA and the Striving Readers programs, unexpected blows for the education community and for all of the principals organizations. With the overall allocation for this bill coming in $3.1 billion below last year’s appropriations levels and a strong push to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health, education in general and Title IIA in particular bore the brunt of those financial pressures. There remains strong hope that the Senate Appropriations Committee will reverse or at least mitigate these cuts. Additionally, there remains some possibility that no final agreement will be reached on some or all of the FY18 appropriations bills, which would then lead to continuing resolutions where Title IIA would continue to be funded at last year’s $2 billion level. The next two months will tell the tale. In the meantime, the full House Appropriations Committee will vote on this bill next week.

In slightly brighter news, the House Subcommittee provided the Administration’s school choice proposals received virtually no support, save for a slight increase in charter school funding. Additionally, the Subcommittee agreed to increase by $100 million the appropriation for the Title IV, Part A flexible block grant, which allows districts to spend their money on health/safety programs, well-rounded academic programs and ed tech, a $200 million increase for IDEA, a $60 million plus up for TRIO and a $10 million plus up for GEAR UP. Most other programs saw level funding or slight cuts.

During the markup Chairman Cole (R-OK) stated that this is only a 3% cut to the overall bill from last year and “it preserves funding for important programs like CTE and HBCU’s in a fiscally responsible way.” On the other hand, Ranking Members of the subcommittee and full committee Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) expressed great disappointment with the bills funding levels for education and cuts to programs like the literacy, after school, and Special Olympics in addition to level funding for Title I and preschool programs. DeLauro said that the elimination of the Title II program “seems very anti teacher to me––when we rob our teachers and principals of the supports they need, we are robbing our children.” Lowey stated that the cuts to the Pell surplus program “in essence, make it more difficult for students to afford college.”  There was only one amendment offered by Rep. DeLauro about the ACA repeal, which failed on a roll call vote along party lines. The bill was referred to the full committee where more amendments are expected. Full committee mark-up is likely next week.

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