The House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations has released its draft Fiscal Year (FY) 21 funding bill that it will mark up on July 7. The full appropriations committee will consider the bill next week. The following is a summary of the bill’s provisions, though not all individual program funding will be known until the full committee markup. The figures below are mostly derived from the committee’s summary of the bill.
The bill includes $196.5 billion in overall funding, an increase of $2.4 billion (1.2%) above FY 20. The modest increase reflects the tight budget caps appropriators are working under in FY 21, which is the last year of budget caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Congress has passed two-year budget deals to increase those caps nearly every year since then. Even the slight increase in the House LHHS bill was possible only by designating some of the spending as “emergency,” and thus not subject to the budget caps. This maneuver will likely be a bone of contention with Senate Republican appropriators, so final funding for LHHS programs may be less than what this bill provides.
After the House appropriations committee in all likelihood approves the bill next week, the appropriations process is currently unclear. House leadership hopes to pass as many of the 12 appropriations bills on the floor as possible before the August Congressional recess. Partisan differences over what may be included in the FY 2021 appropriations bills has stalled any progress in the Senate, which has yet to consider any appropriations measures. Between now and the August recess, appropriators will also be deeply involved in negotiations over the next economic stimulus bill to address the pandemic.
Department of Education
The House bill provides $73.5 billion for Dept. of Education (ED) programs, an uptick of $716 million (1.0%). The legislation includes a $150 increase to the Pell Grant maximum award, to $6,495 for the 2021-22 academic year. As has been the case with the last several maximum award increases, this was achieved by using surplus funds in the Pell Grant account rather than through increased appropriations. Funding levels for other notable programs include:
- Perkins CTE Basic State Grants – $1.3 billion (+$18 million over FY 2020)
- Adult Education State Grants – $664 million (+$7 million)
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants – $880 million (+$15 million)
- Federal Work Study – $1.2 billion (+$30 billion)
- Strengthening HBCUs – $344 million (+$19 million)
- Strengthening HSIs – $155 million (+$12 million)
- Tribally-Controlled Colleges and Universities – $39 million (+$2 million)
- Federal TRIO Programs – $1.1 billion (+$10 million)
- GEAR UP – $370 million (+$5 million)
- Child Care Access Means Parents in School – $55 million (+$2 million)
The bill also includes several policy provisions, the most important of which for community colleges are:
- A prohibition on ED from implementing its controversial Title IX regulations.
- Modification of the “90/10” rule to require that for-profit institutions derive at least 15% of their revenues from non-federal sources. The provision also broadens the definition of federal educational assistance funds to include nearly all federal funds received by proprietary institutions, not just Title IV funds.
- Extension of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals under certain conditions. The new eligibility would only apply to incarcerated individuals enrolled in public or non-profit institutions. The programs must meet other requirements that are very similar to those contained in the College Affordability Act, House HEA reauthorization legislation approved by the education committee.
Department of Labor
The bill increases funding for the Dept. of Labor (DOL) by $254 million (2.0%), to a total of $12.7 billion. Community colleges are heartened to see a second year of funding for the Strengthening Community College Training Grants program, which would grow to $50 million (+$10 million). The program is a priority for Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the chairwoman of the LHHS appropriations subcommittee. DOL has not yet issued the FY 2020 grant competition.
Other highlights of the bill include:
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants – $2.9 billion (+$50 million)
- Registered Apprenticeships – $185 million (+$10 million)
- Job Corps – $1.76 billion (+$ 12 million)