Following the July 4 recess, Congress returns with a laundry list of bills and policies to complete prior to August—and a limited amount of time in which to do it. As of now, there have been no indications from either chamber that Congress is planning to eliminate August recess, so the time crunch to complete these projects is significant. The House may have the easier path of both chambers, as their main goal is to pass all 12 appropriations bills by the end of the month. While this is still a difficult task, House Democratic leadership has a path forward and work has already begun.
The House Appropriations Committee has completed their subcommittee markups for each bill and is hoping to pass each bill through full committee markup by July 17. This includes the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill that comprises several increases in education funding for NASSP priority programs. Overall, the bill provides $73.5 billion for ED, a $716 million raise from FY 2020. A breakdown of what other NASSP priority programs received in the bill compared to their FY 2020 levels is below. It is important to keep in mind that these numbers are far from final since the Senate is unlikely to take up these bills, and a continuing resolution seems likely in September to push any appropriations conversations past the November elections. The bill did pass through the full committee on a party line vote on July 13.
- Title I: $16.6 billion, an increase of $254 million
- IDEA grants to states: $12.95 billion, an increase of $194 million
- Title II: $2.2 billion, an increase of $23 million
- Title IV: $1.2 billion, an increase of $10 million
- Rural education: $187 million, an increase of $1 million
- School safety national activities: $106 million, an increase of $1 million
- Literacy grants to states: $192 million, level funded from FY 2020
- CTE state grants: $1.3 billion, an increase of $18 million
While the House has a relatively difficult task, the Senate’s is truly daunting. Refuting the House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act means that the burden for introducing and passing the next COVID-19 relief package will fall on Senate Republican leadership. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has slow-walked the idea of a future package, but with increasing pressure from national advocacy groups and even President Trump, the possibility of another package seems increasingly likely. One key aspect of a new bill will be around funding for K–12 education. Fortunately, both Democrats and Republicans have begun to voice their support for additional funds for education as rhetoric around the importance of reopening school buildings in the fall builds steam with Republican legislators and President Trump.
While there seems to be general consensus about supporting K–12 education in the next package, a significant investment—at least $175 billion—will be necessary to better enable schools to safely and effectively educate students in the 2020–21 school year. Join NASSP in advocating for this investment by contacting your lawmakers today to let them know how important additional federal aid will be for serving your students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.