Legislative Update: House Passes Appropriations Bill and Senate Introduces Stimulus Package

This week, the full House voted on Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bills, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) proposal. Read below to learn more about what was included in this bill and next steps, as well the newly introduced stimulus bill from Senate Republicans and the recipients of the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant.  

Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations Bill Passes in the House

Today, the House passed an FY21 appropriations minibus, or grouping of appropriations bills, on party lines. This $1.3 trillion package (H.R. 7617) included the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) appropriations bill, which provides an increase of approximately $716 million for federal education programs and an increase of approximately $254 million for federal labor programs. This bill increases the Perkins Basic State Grant by about $18 million, or 1.4%, bringing the total amount of funding to about $1.3 billion. There are six appropriations bills that make up this minibus, in addition to Labor-HHS-Ed, the package also includes: Defense; Commerce, Justice and Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. A summary of the full bill can be found here

Next, the Senate will introduce and vote on their own appropriations bills, which can be expected to differ from what was passed in the House. Ultimately, the House, Senate and administration must come to an agreement on FY21 federal funding.

Senate Releases Stimulus Bill Proposal
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here

On Monday evening, Senate Republicans released the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections, and Schools Act (HEALS Act), an approximately trillion-dollar proposal for the next round of relief funding aimed at quelling the economic and public health crisis ignited by the pandemic.

Some of the larger provisions of the HEALS Act include $200 per week in unemployment insurance, down from $600 in the previously enacted CARES Act, another round of stimulus checks, liability protection for businesses and schools, an additional round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, among other measures.

More specifically for education, the proposal calls for $105 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund, authorizes Emergency Education Freedom Scholarships, consolidates the nine current student loan repayment plans into two, and provides various emergency waiver authority to the Secretary for federal programs, including the Perkins Act. Of the $105 billion, the Elementary and Secondary Education fund would receive $70 billion, with two-thirds of that conditioned on local education agencies meeting certain requirements around reopening. Higher education institutions would receive $29 billion with funding being allotted based on the number of Pell Grant recipients. The last $5 billion would go to the Governors’ Emergency Relief Fund, which can be used for any emergency grants for any part of education. Although the proposal does not include dedicated funding for CTE programs, they are included in the allowable use of funds for money allocated to the Education Stabilization Fund.

Additionally, the bill authorizes additional funding for various workforce development activities.  The appropriations package provides a total of $950 million in the Department of Labor for adult and youth training programs.

This proposal will serve as the Senate Republicans opening bid with Democrats, who will most certainly seek to make changes prior to any relief proposal being signed into law. Democratic leadership in both chambers have voiced serious concerns with the proposal, saying that it “falls short of what is needed to help with the coronavirus recession.” Democrats will seek to include hazard pay for essential workers, further address the looming eviction crisis, provide additional funding for social safety programs, and have serious concerns with the conditioning school funding to physical re-opening and liability protection provisions. It is expected for negotiations to start immediately and could potentially drag out into August, forcing Congress to work through a portion of their recess.

We are continuing to advocate for these critical resources directly for CTE and workforce programs to be included in the next relief package to ensure learners are prepared for labor market needs, particularly as the economy begins to rebuild after the pandemic. We need your help quickly to emphasize this message with Congress as the congressional leaders come together in negotiations. Click here to ask your Members of Congress to support the inclusion of funds for CTE, as provided in the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, in the next relief package.

Education Department Awards Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant 

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that 11 states will receive over $180 million in new grant funding through the Rethink K-12 Education Models Grant. This initiative will support states in serving their students during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic through new and innovative strategies. The participating states are Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas, and award amounts range from $6 million to $20 million. This program is through the Education Stabilization Fund of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

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