Washington Update, December 19, 2023
The final sprint to the holiday break is finally upon us. I hope you all have done a better job than I and are not spending Saturday at a packed shopping mall purchasing last minute gifts for friends and family. The House broke for recess last week, with the Senate remaining in session throughout this week. While there has been no recent movement on FY2024 appropriations, both the Senate and House Appropriations Committee democratic staff have posted fact sheets about possible funding cuts if Congress were to extend government funding at current levels for the rest of the year. A full year continuing resolution would trigger deep automatic cuts to non-defense discretionary funding – including education- and cuts to defense, as well. You can review the fact sheets below under New Resources for Educators.
1. Senate HELP Committee Passes Advancing Research in Education Act
Last week, the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed the Advancing Research in Education Act of 2023, S3392 (AREA) which would reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA). The two-decade-old law established the Institute for Education Sciences and authorizes the National Center for Special Education Research. The law expired in 2008 and last spring, Senators Sanders and Cassidy, the Chair and Ranking member of the HELP committee, requested input from educators, school leaders, local and state educational agencies, education organizations, researchers, families, communities, and other interested parties on policies the HELP Committee should consider during the reauthorization of ESRA. The primary goal of reauthorization is to improve education research and the usage of evidence based strategies in the classroom.
You can watch a recording of the hearing and review the associated documents, including bill text and amendments here.
2. House Education and Workforce Committee Passes Two Education and Workforce Related Bills
On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved two significant bills: H.R. 6585, known as the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act, and H.R. 6655, titled A Stronger Workforce for America Act. Both pieces of legislation aim to enhance the skill sets crucial for success in the workforce. Specifically, H.R. 6585 seeks to broaden the eligibility criteria for Pell Grants to encompass short-term programs, establish a quality assurance system, and ensure program alignment with the demands of high-priority industries. Meanwhile, H.R. 6655 proposes the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act, focusing on skill development for existing employees, promoting initiatives led by employees, and establishing individual training accounts for individuals who lose employment through no fault of their own. Notably, the bill does not propose changes to Title IV, the section of the law addressing vocational rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities.
In her opening remarks House Education and the Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said in part: “Together, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act and A Stronger Workforce for America Act will broaden the precarious education tightrope to a true pipeline in which many paths can lead to a rewarding career,” Ranking member Scott (D-VA) echoed Chairwoman’s Foxx saying in part: “They are stronger pieces of legislation because of our bipartisan work....and I am excited that we have finally reached a bipartisan agreement with solid quality assurance measures to ensure taxpayer dollars are used on high-quality programs.”
New Resources For Educators
• House Democrats Fact Sheet on the potential impact of a full year continuing resolution.
• Senate Democrats Fact Sheet on the potential impact of a full year continuing resolution.
Congress and Washington Update are officially on recess until the New Yea- returning Friday, January 5th.
Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful holiday season surrounded by all of the people and things you love. It is a true honor to partner on this work together and I could not be more grateful for you all.
Until 2024---catch me on X!