Legislative Update: Next Steps for Congress to Avoid a Government Shut Down and FCC Grants to Close the Homework Gap

This week, funding legislation moves through Congress to avoid a government shut down. Read below to learn about the next steps needed, as well as Advance CTE’s support of proposed funding for Career Technical Education (CTE), newly announced awards for exemplary CTE programs and the first wave of grants to close the homework gap. 

Debt Ceilings, Reconciliation, Infrastructure and Avoiding A Government Shut Down

There are a number of related but separate spending measures working their way through Congress, which create for a confusing and volatile federal landscape. 

  • Congress needs to enact a spending bill to keep the federal government open past the fiscal year end – Thursday, September 30. This bill, called a Continuing Resolution, has been bundled with conversations related to raising the debt ceiling, which also needs to be acted upon sometime in October or the federal government goes into default. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved (220-211) a Continuing Resolution to fund the government until December 3. The bill also suspends the federal debt limit until December 2022. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle. Senate Republicans vowed to oppose the CR because of the debt limit provision, creating the possibility of government shut down beginning October 1. 
  • Next up is the reconciliation bill, which is the vehicle being used to move forward a big portion of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. The House Budget Committee is scheduled to markup the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, the Build Back Better Act, over the weekend. The spending bill, which was detailed in last week’s legislative update, includes $3 billion in funding through the Perkins Basic State Grant funding stream, with an additional $1 billion in funding for the existing Innovation and Modernization fund, for a total of $4 billion to be distributed through Perkins V. In addition, there is funding for universal pre-K and childcare subsidies for eligible families, two years of free community college, a $500 increase to Pell grants, K-12 school infrastructure, workforce development programs, teacher residency programs, school leadership programs, and Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
  • The House is scheduled to vote on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Monday, September 27.  Progressive and moderate House Democrats are vowing to vote against the bill if the House does not to first vote on the reconciliation bill which includes the “human” infrastructure investments mentioned above. However, the reconciliation bill will not be ready for a floor vote by Monday; in fact, it is likely not going to be ready for vote for several weeks as Democrats negotiate behind the scenes to pare back the top line numbers in order to secure Senate Democrat support. If the progressive Democratic Caucus members votes against the bill on Monday, it will fail on the House floor.  

Advance CTE Joins Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in Applauding Committee Passage of the Build Back Better Act

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) applauded the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee on passing its portion of the Build Back Better Act, which includes $4 billion in dedicated funding for CTE programs, and nearly $80 billion total in funding for workforce development programs. Advance CTE joined Rep. Krishnamoorthi’s press statement celebrating the robust funding levels for CTE and workforce development programs. Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green shared that “this legislation includes significant, increased funding and new investments that are crucial for states, schools and colleges to deliver high-quality CTE programs that are responsive to the evolving needs of industry and to close skill gaps.” Advance CTE is calling on the Senate to maintain or exceed these levels in the Build Back Better Act. Lend your voice and advocacy of this funding level through ACTE’s advocacy portal

U.S. Department of Education announces Blue Ribbon Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education announced the 325 schools that were selected as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021. The selection is based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among subgroups. Additional criteria were added for this year’s secondary school applicants to describe the “curriculum supports college and career readiness (e.g., dual credit courses, college prep classes, Career Technical Education (CTE), apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship opportunities, industry-recognized credentials). This may also include student leadership, community and civic responsibilities, entrepreneurship skills, or work-based learning opportunities that align with essential or emerging careers.” Check out the database of schools to see if any of your state’s schools that offer exemplary CTE programs were selected for this honor. 

First Round of Emergency Connectivity Fund Grants Announced

Today, the FCC announced an initial wave of $1.2 billion from the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program to support 3,040 schools, 260 libraries, and 24 consortia across all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. “The funding will support 3,081,131 devices and 774,115 broadband connections and help connect over 3.6 million students who, according to their schools, would otherwise lack devices, broadband access, or both.” second application filing window will open on September 28, 2021 and close on October 13, 2021.  During this window, applicants can submit requests for funding for purchases through June 30, 2022 to meet the needs of learners, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack access to basic educational opportunities and library services.   

Kimberly Green, Executive Director

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