What does the new budget deal mean for education spending?
Will Pres. Trump actually sign the new budget deal bill?
Does money matter when securing accommodations for students with disabilities?
The Senate left town yesterday following on the heels of the House bringing the five-week summer recess into full bloom. Congress will reconvene in September, and thanks to the passage of the budget deal, move forward in adopting 12 appropriations bills, including one with education spending. But obstacles remain.
Yesterday the Senate passed the $2.7 trillion two-year budget agreement - H.R. 3877 -- and sent it to the White House where the President has said he will sign it. The agreement represents a $24.5 billion increase in spending for Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) spending, which includes education. The bill also includes a two-year extension of the debt ceiling (maximum the government can borrow). The House passed the bill last week.
The vote in the Senate was interesting - 67-28 - with some Republicans and Democrats opposing it. Considerable energy was spent whipping up Republican support, as those concerned with too much government spending were groaning. The President is reported to have made numerous calls urging Republican senators to support the deal, thus decreasing the likelihood of a government shutdown and extending the resolution beyond the 2020 election. Before the vote he tweeted "Two year deal gets us past the Election. Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!" Five Democrats opposed the bill, including two presidential contenders - Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Senators left town with mixed feelings, including Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who noted that the budget vote "will create as many problems as it solves."
The next hurdle is the divvying up of so-called "302-b" allocations. These are spending caps for each of the 12 appropriations bills which the Senate will need to create and pass. Education advocates are hoping for a significant increase for the Labor/HHS/Education spending bill. These allocations are under discussion now. When they are agreed upon, the 12 funding bills will begin to move. Appropriations chair, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) hopes that the Committee can move all 12 bills before the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), but he's not making any promises. "Well that would be a worthy goal. That would be a hard thing to do...but we'll do the best we can," he said.
It is likely that the Senate will adopt the successful strategy used last year - to package the Labor/HHS bill with the Defense spending bill for floor consideration so that members will take one vote on the package. Since Labor/HHS is the most contentious bill, paring it with the less contentious defense bill pulls in more support than moving them separately. It's possible that the Senate Labor/HHS appropriations subcommittee could mark up its bill the week of September 9 when the Senate reconvenes.