After months of tumultuous negotiations, Republicans and Democrats finally struck a deal for the FY 2020 budget, avoiding a possible government shutdown right before Congress’ scheduled holiday break. Earlier this week, lawmakers reached an agreement and President Trump is planning on signing two different omnibus packages that contained the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government. Education funding was a big winner in this final package, with many of NASSP’s priority programs seeing increases for the first time in several years. Overall, the package provides a total of $72.8 billion for the Department of Education (ED), $1.3 billion above the FY 2019 enacted level. Some of NASSP’s highest-priority programs received substantial funding increases in the FY 2020 package, including:
- Title I: $16.31 billion, a $450 million increase over FY 2019
- IDEA grants to states: $12.76 billion, a $400 million increase over FY 2019
- Title II: $2.13 billion, a $76 million increase over FY 2019 and the first program increase the since 2014
- Title IV, Part A: $1.21 billion, a $40 million increase over FY 2019
- School safety national activities: $105 million, a $10 million increase over FY 2019
- Comprehensive literacy development grants: $192 million, a $2 million increase over FY 2019
- CTE grants to states: $1.28 billion, a $20 million increase over FY 2019
Throughout 2019, NASSP members and stakeholders pushed their members of Congress to support these much-needed increases to federal education programs that benefit schools, students, and educators. Year to date, 4,076 principals and advocates used NASSP Action Center campaigns to send 10,495 messages to their representatives and senators. Hundreds of NASSP advocates also carried the message to officials on Capitol Hill in person at various events throughout the year, including at the 2019 NASSP Advocacy Conference and Capitol Hill Day, the 2019 National Principals Month Capitol Hill Day, and numerous additional NASSP-hosted congressional briefing events and meetings with lawmakers. The voice of school leaders was heard loud and clear by Congress in 2019, and this most recent education funding victory is a product of that advocacy.
The FY 2020 funding package also includes several provisions and policies outside of ED that are important to NASSP and school leaders. Among them are a $25 million allocation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to research gun violence prevention and an additional allocation of $230 million to address tobacco and e-cigarette use. The bill also includes a policy rider that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Looking Ahead to 2020
With the budget nearly completed and the fear of lingering debate affecting legislative business next year almost dissuaded, we can make some predictions as to what Congress may begin working on in early 2020. If the House passes impeachment proceedings as they’re expected to later this week, the Senate will most likely be entirely consumed with the impeachment trial for the majority of January, leaving little to no time for other legislative business in the upper chamber.
The House, on the other hand, may act on some of their priority issues. There’s been discussion in recent weeks that members may move strong legislation that would regulate and curb the youth vaping epidemic. As previously mentioned, the FY 2020 budget package takes a first step towards curbing tobacco use by raising the tobacco product purchasing age to 21, but there is much more that can be done to protect our nation’s youth from these dangerous products. H.R. 2339, the Reversing Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, is one of the bills that could move in the lower chamber early next year. Introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ 6th District), H.R. 2339 would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco as well as place strict restrictions on tobacco advertisements to children. NASSP has advocated strongly for this important legislation, and we urge principals and educators to contact their federal representatives right now to urge them to pass this bill and similar legislation in the Senate as soon as possible.