Federal

House, Senate Bills Would Cut Ed. Dept. Funding

By Lauren Camera — July 07, 2015 3 min read

Despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama, Republicans in both chambers of Congress are pushing through appropriations bills for fiscal 2016 that adhere to congressionally mandated spending caps and would cut billions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Education and eliminate a slew of federal education programs.

The Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives passed its funding bill on a party-line vote, 30-21, on June 24. The proposal would provide $64.4 billion for the Education Department, a $2.8 billion cut from fiscal 2015, and eliminate 20 programs, including School Improvement Grants, the Preschool Development Grant, and Investing in Innovation.

A day later on the other side of the Capitol, the Appropriations Committee in the Senate passed its spending plan on a party-line vote, 16-14. The proposal would provide $65.5 billion for the Education Department, a $1.7 billion cut, and eliminate 10 programs, including Investing in Innovation and Preschool Development Grants—both major Obama administration initiatives—and Striving Readers, a literacy program.

Both bills would provide increases for a handful of programs, including bumps of more than $100 million each for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Head Start. The Senate bill would also include a $150 million increase for Title I grants for low-income students, and both bills would provide small increases for grants to support the creation of new charter schools.

Democrats Rebuffed

During the markup process, Democrats’ pitches to increase or restore funding were outright rejected, though in the House, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the appropriations-subcommittee chairman, said he was interested in working with Democrats to find some way to increase funding for early-childhood education.

“If we had a larger allocation, this is probably the number-one place I would turn to put additional dollars,” Rep. Cole said. “I will continue to work with [Democrats] to see what we can do in this area. I do think this is money well spent, and it’s money that saves money down the line.”

It’s been more than six years since both the House and Senate appropriations committees cleared their appropriations bills, which also include funding for the departments of Health and Human Services and Labor. More than anything, lawmakers focused on the need for a budget deal that relieves them of their self-imposed across-the-board spending caps known as the sequester.

“These caps were tight,” conceded Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. “I point out that that was required by the law, the Budget Control Act, and until we change that act, we have to live with what the law is.”

For the last two years, those caps have been avoided thanks to a budget deal brokered by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., back in 2013. But that deal expires at the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30.

“First and foremost, [the Senate appropriations bill] doubles down on the automatic budget cuts that Democrats and Republicans agree are terrible policy and should have never become law,” Sen. Murray said. “That deal expires this year, and until we reach another one, each of these bills ... has no chance of becoming law.”

President Obama has vowed to veto any spending bill that locks in sequester-level funding, meaning that the current appropriations bills moving through both chambers likely won’t see the light of day. And while lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that the end of the fiscal year is just a few months away, they have yet to come up with a Plan B.

“We could make the choice today to work together on a deal to remove the sequester and fund the government,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. “I do hope we can come together soon to find a solution to mindless austerity caps.”

A version of this article appeared in the July 08, 2015 edition of Education Week as House, Senate Appropriations Bills Would Cut Back Ed. Dept. Funding

Events

School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

Federal Biden Launches New Strategy to Combat COVID-19, Reopen Schools
The president plans a more centralized strategy that includes broader vaccine efforts, more data on the pandemic, and new school guidance.
5 min read
Public School 95 in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn is one of many schools in New York ordered to close due to a flare-up of coronavirus cases in the area on Oct. 5, 2020.
Public School 95 in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn is one of many schools in New York ordered to close due to a flare-up of coronavirus cases in the area on Oct. 5, 2020.
Kathy Willens/AP
Federal Biden Revokes Trump's 'Patriotic Education' Order, Will Shield DACA
Joe Biden took a flurry of executive actions on his first day as president that included a new government-wide emphasis on racial equity.
3 min read
 Joe Biden departs a news conference after introducing his nominees and appointees to economic policy posts at The Queen theater, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.
Joe Biden departs a news conference after introducing his nominees and appointees to economic policy posts Dec. 1 in Wilmington, Del.
Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal Opinion Blessings and Best Wishes, President Biden
Rick Hess takes a moment to offer President-elect Biden his best wishes and to reflect on Inauguration Day.
1 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Biden Picks San Diego Superintendent for Deputy Education Secretary
San Diego Superintendent Cindy Marten was a classroom teacher for 17 years before she became a school and district administrator.
2 min read
Image of the White House seal
Bet Noire/Getty