On a largely party-line vote, the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations has approved its FY 2013 funding bill. Given the overall funding constraints on the bill—overall, it spends $7 billion less than its Senate counterpart, S. 3295—the bill is generally positive for community colleges. The legislation could be approved by the full House Appropriations Committee as early as next week, but it is not clear when, or even if, the legislation will be brought to the House floor. Final funding decisions, after compromises are made with the Senate, will not occur until after the November election.
Specific funding levels for programs will not be available until the full Appropriations Committee marks up the legislation. Details gathered so far indicate that the bill would:
- Set the Pell Grant maximum at $5,635 for the award year that begins July 1, 2013, an increase from the current $5,550 (as in the Senate legislation). The bill proposes no eligibility changes to the program. Unlike the Senate legislation, the bill does not restore “Ability to Benefit” eligibility for students in career pathway programs, nor does it limit the Pell Grant “cost of attendance” for 100% online students, as in the Senate bill, so these become conference issues.
- Preserve current funding levels for Perkins Career and Technical Education, Adult Education and Family Literacy, Federal Work Study, and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.
- Level fund the Workforce Investment Act’s adult, dislocated worker and youth formula programs. Given the House Republicans’ proposals to severely cut these programs in the last two funding cycles, this comes as a pleasant surprise. However, the bill would cut funding for Department of Labor national programs, including the Workforce Innovation Fund.
- Cut approximately $60 million from the Department of Education’s (ED) higher education account, which includes the HEA’s Title III, V and VI programs—no details on which programs would lose funding.
- Slash funding for the Corporation for National & Community Service by more than $777 million, or 74% below the FY 2012 level, terminating funding for numerous community service programs including AmeriCorps and VISTA.
The bill would prohibit ED from implementing its controversial “gainful employment” regulations promulgated in 2010 and 2011 (part of these regulations have been thrown out in court), and permanently bar ED from ever regulating gainful employment programs. In addition, the legislation blocks ED from implementing October 29, 2010, regulations on state authorization (which greatly impacted community college distance education programs) as well as those defining a “credit hour.”
For more information, contact David Baime (firstname.lastname@example.org), Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Research, or Laurie Quarles (email@example.com), Legislative Associate.