Legislative Update: Democratic Summit; FAA Funding Flexibility; Conference Committee Blocked

Senate Democratic Rural Summit

NASDCTEc was invited to attend an April 25, 2013 convening of the U.S. Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, led by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), focused on issues affecting rural communities. Though the event primarily focused on agriculture and nutrition issues, rural schools and districts were also part of the discussion. Topics relevant to Career Technical Education (CTE) included increased flexibility in rural school districts and issues with rural areas qualifying for competitive grant funding. These issues are reflected in our Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) recommendations for reauthorization.

Given Senator Begich’s support of rural education, which we covered in a previous blog post we plan to meet with his staff to share our Perkins recommendations and to discuss how CTE can fit into the priorities of the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

Congressional Action to End FY13 Sequester for FAA Thwarted in Favor of Funding Flexibility

At the end of last week, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives both passed legislation, S. 788 and H.R. 1765 respectively, that provides the Secretary of Transportation with the flexibility to redirect funds within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) so that air traffic controllers furloughed due to sequestration could return to work. The measure is on its way to the President, who is expected to sign it.

Originally this measure was expected to be a repeal of the FAA sequester, which provided a hopeful moment that Congress might begin to eliminate the impact of sequester on targeted programs. However, the compromise simply provides the FAA the authority move funds under its jurisdiction from one account to another.

Providing Cabinet Secretaries the flexibility to move funds within their agency to achieve sequestration targets is how sequestration will be implemented in future years. This is in contrast to the first year of sequestration, FY13, which required across-the-board cuts to all programs within an agency. It is important for our members to contact their Congressional offices to let them know that the entire sequester should be replaced or repealed. CTE is just as important as delays at the airport.

FY14 Budget Conference Committee Blocked

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called last week for the creation of a budget conference committee to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate budgets. As reported in previous blog posts, the House budget would lead to an 11.7 percent reduction in nondefense discretionary spending for FY14, which would result in significant reductions to Perkins funding. The Senate budget would repeal the sequester and restore funding to Perkins and other nondefense programs.

Last Tuesday, Senate Republicans rejected Senator Reid’s call to appoint conference committee members. NASDCTEc will continue to share any updates on the FY14 budget negotiations.

David Beckett, Advocacy Manager

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