Legislation
House Appropriations Committee Advances Education Funding Bill

The House Committee on Appropriations advanced a bill this week that would provide funding for the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for fiscal year (FY) 2018.  The legislation passed through the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education last week.

 

The bill proposes a $2.4 billion cut to ED’s overall budget – much lower than the $9.2 billion decrease requested by the Trump Administration.  The most controversial piece of the legislation is the elimination of funding for Title II, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants.  The Trump Administration requested elimination of this $2 billion program in its FY 2018 budget proposal.

 

This cut has garnered significant criticism by advocates and Democratic lawmakers, who argue that eliminating the program will have a particularly negative effect on low-income and disadvantaged school districts that tend to face teacher shortages at higher rates than other districts.  An attempt by Representative David Price (D-NC) to restore the Title II funding during the bill’s markup on Wednesday failed.

 

A group of more than 100 Democratic lawmakers expressed their discontent with the elimination of Title II in a letter sent to the heads of the House Appropriations Committee and the subcommittee that handles education.  The letter discusses the recent 2015 reauthorization of the ESEA and states that “Congress must follow through on [its] promise by fully funding [Every Student Succeeds Act] programs, including Title II-A, at the authorized amounts.”  Democrats note that eliminating Title II funding will likely lead to “thousands of layoffs and larger class sizes across the country” and that it will “stifle innovation in the delivery of teacher professional development and improved classroom instruction.”

 

Democrats also expressed frustration that the bill left an additional $5 billion unused on the table because Republicans chose to set the top level funding line for nondefense appropriations $5 billion lower than the sequester level cap set in place for FY 2018.

 

Next, the bill heads to the full House for consideration, but it is unclear when that vote may take place.  It is not likely to occur before Congress’ August summer recess.

 

The chart below shows the House bill’s funding levels for major education programs compared to the President’s FY 2018 budget proposal and the current FY 2017 amounts:
 

 

Appropriation (in thousands of dollars)
Program Final FY 2017 President’s FY 2018 Request House legislation for FY 2018 House legislation as compared to FY 2017
ESEA Title I Grants $15,459,802 $14,881,458 $15,459,802 $0
ESEA Title II (Teacher Quality) $2,055,830 $0 $0 -$2,055,830
ESEA Title III (English Language Acquisition) $737,400 $735,998 $737,400 $0
Education Innovation and Research $100,000 $370,000 $0 -$100,000
Impact Aid $1,328,603 $1,236,435 $1,333,603 $5,000
21st Century Community Learning Centers $1,191,673 $0 $1,000,000 -$191,673
Charter School Grants $342,172 $500,000 $370,000 $27,828
Student Support and Academic Enrichment (Title IV-A) $400,000 $0 $500,000 $100,000
Promise Neighborhoods $73,254 $60,000 $60,000 -$13,254
IDEA Part B State Grants $12,002,848 $11,890,202** $12,202,848 $200,000
IDEA Part C Grants $458,556 $457,684 $458,556 $0
CTE State grants $1,117,598 $949,499 $1,117,598 $0
Adult Education State grants $581,955 $485,849 $581,955 $0
TRIO $950,000 $808,289 $1,010,000 $60,000
Head Start, including Early Head Start $9,253,095 $9,168,000 $9,275,000 $21,905
CCDBG $2,856,000 $2,761,000 $2,860,000 $4,000
Preschool Development Grants $250,000 $0 $250,000 $0

 

**According to ED, IDEA Part B would receive a $112.6 million cut, but the Office of Management and Budget tables indicate a suggested cut of nearly $954 million; it is not clear which number is correct.

About the Author

Kelly Christiansen is an associate with the Washington, DC law firm of Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Title I Association.