Champions of spending on after-school programs got a qualified victory on Wednesday during debate over the House education funding bill for the next fiscal year.
Lawmakers voted 228-188 to increase what the bill originally earmarked for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program by $100 million in the House budget bill for the U.S. Department of Education. The amendment to the House bill was sponsored by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., among others. It would bring spending on the program, which provides summer learning opportunities as well as after-school programming, up to $1.1 billion. That’s less than the $1.2 billion the program currently gets in fiscal 2017, so if the bill’s enacted there would still be a year-over-year cut to the learning centers. But advocates still praised the move.
“Democrats and Republicans put children first, helping to ensure that afterschool programs serving 100,000 students will not be forced to close their doors because of a cut in federal funding,’ the Afterschool Alliance said in a statement Thursday.
Both the original and amended House budget bill definitively rejected the proposed education budget from President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sought to eliminate the $1.2 billion program for fiscal 2018. However, the idea didn’t sit very well on either side of the aisle in Congress—Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., was an early and outspoken Republican voice against the proposed cut from the Trump team.
A final vote House education funding bill could come on Thursday. The Senate appropriations committee, meanwhile, voted recently to flat-fund the learning center program at $1.2 billion. Indeed, the Senate appropriations bill for the Education Department is more generous than the House version overall.