Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee formally began to consider the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins). As has been the case since the 113th Congress, Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) have been designated by the committee to lead efforts to renew this important law.
These two Senators, along with HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), have all recently agreed to a set of eight bipartisan principles that will be used to guide their efforts to reauthorize the Perkins Act:
- Make it easier for States and locals to run their CTE programs to serve all students who desire to gain access to CTE coursework, including students with disabilities;
- Increase access to, and support of, career counseling for all CTE students;
- Maintain Perkins as a formula program;
- Align with ESEA and WIOA (where applicable) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the education and workforce development programs;
- Support the expansion of public/private collaborations with secondary and post-secondary programs, including alignment with State or locally-determined in-demand industries and occupations;
- Support efforts to integrate into and strengthen career pathways at the state and local levels;
- Address unfunded programs; and
- Improve evaluation and research to support innovation and best practices.
This week groups were asked to submit specific recommendations to the committee for the law’s renewal. NASDCTEc, in conjunction with the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), submitted substantial legislative recommendations to the committee earlier this week based on our board-approved Perkins recommendations. A crosswalk of this submission with the above principles is available here, information related to Title I & II recommendations can be found here and here, and a document highlighting points of intersection between this proposal and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act can be accessed here.
So far no firm timeline has been set for a formal bill to renew Perkins. As with the Perkins-related hearing in the House this past Tuesday, these are just the first steps in what will likely be a much longer reauthorization process.
As things continue to evolve, be sure to check back here for more Perkins updates and analysis.
House Resolves Leadership Impasse and Passes a Bipartisan Budget Deal
As we’ve been sharing, the House of Representatives has been struggling to find a replacement for Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) following his surprise resignation announcement in September.
Last week the House GOP began to coalesce around House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as their preferred replacement for Speaker Boehner. Yesterday morning, the full chamber moved to elect Rep. Paul “D.” Ryan, elevating him to the Speaker of the House.
Competing for attention during the month-long melodrama of the House leadership race has been continued partisan disagreements on how to fund the federal government past December 11th and avert a catastrophic national debt default. Both of these issues, and many more, seem set to be resolved with the announcement earlier this week that Republican Congressional leaders and President Obama had reached a wide ranging agreement on federal spending and the nation’s borrowing limit.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) would provide approximately $80 billion in sequester relief over the next two fiscal years by temporarily raising current limits on federal spending (known as sequester caps) through FY 2017. These increases would be split between defense and non-defense discretionary programs, potentially providing additional funding for programs—such as the Perkins Act basic state grant— over the next two years. The deal also suspends, but does not raise the nation’s “debt ceiling” through March 15, 2017. Both aspects of the BBA would push ongoing partisan disagreements over federal spending and the nation’s debt limit until well after the upcoming Presidential election.
This Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to pass the BBA on a margin of 266-167—a move made possible by Speaker Boehner’s imminent departure (a substantial portion of the House Republican Caucus did not support the measure which is at odds with an informal Republican Caucus rule that no legislation be considered unless a majority of the majority supports a bill).
The BBA now moves to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has filed a cloture motion that will allow the full chamber to vote on the legislation sometime this Sunday or late on Monday.
While the BBA is an extremely positive step in the right direction, the legislation simply creates a broad framework for federal spending. Once passed, Congressional appropriators will need to establish new 302(b) allocations— the amount of money made available for each portion of the federal budget— for each of the necessary individual spending bills. This includes the Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill where the Perkins Act draws its funding.
Put another way, the BBA will make more money available for federal discretionary programs like Perkins, but Congress must pass separate appropriations legislation to make that a reality. The new availability of funds should make it easier for appropriators to restore the massive cuts to education that were proposed by both the House and the Senate earlier in the year. However, the discussions over specific funding levels for programs like Perkins will only get started once Congress passes the BBA, so full restoration is by no means assured. These pieces of legislation, or a larger package including all or some of them, would replace the current “continuing resolution” that is funding federal programs through December 11th.
As the Congressional appropriations process continues, be sure to check back here for the likely impact on Perkins funding and much more.
Odds & Ends
- Last week, the Senate CTE Caucus hosted a briefing with CNA Education who presented findings from a comparative case study on CTE programs in Tennessee and Florida. An executive summary of the report can be accessed here.
- First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative recently announced a campaign to encourage more 14-19 year olds to pursue some form of education beyond high school. More can be found at bettermakeroom.org.
- The Obama Administration is facilitating a national conversation on transforming high schools to better serve all students. Additional information can be found here.
Steve Voytek, Government Relations Manager