While many in the education community hoped to see passage of the Biden administration’s proposals to provide universal pre-K and other supports by the end of the year, further congressional action on the Build Back Better bill, H.R. 5376, is unlikely until 2022, as negotiations between Senate Democratic holdouts and the White House remain at an impasse.
In a statement released Dec. 16, President Biden said negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will “continue next week,” adding that “it takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote. We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead.”
As passed by the House on Nov. 19, Build Back Better would provide $112 million in funding for IDEA Part D personnel development grants, $112 million each for school leadership development and teacher development grants, and funding for childcare and universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-old children. It would also expand the Community Eligibility Provision program to increase access to free school meals. A Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee draft released on Dec. 11 included IDEA Part D personnel development grant funding, school leadership development and teacher development grants, and funding for childcare and universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-old children, but it did not include CEP expansion and other school nutrition proposals, or grants for Native American teachers and educators.
If the Senate passes an amended version of H.R. 5376, it would then be sent back to the House for final passage before heading to the president’s desk for signature into law.
Despite the delay, “I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan,” Biden said. “[Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.,] and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.”