House panel OKs draft of $102.8B education spending bill

Bill lacks support from two key House Republicans
By: | July 12, 2021

The House Appropriations Committee’s Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee approved on July 12 its draft version of an FY 2022 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which includes a total of $102.8 billion in funding for U.S. Education Department programs.

That’s an increase of $29.3 billion over enacted FY 2021 funding levels. The action moves the draft to the full committee for consideration.

As proposed, the legislation includes $36 billion for Title I, Part A, an increase of $19.5 billion over the FY 2021 enacted level, as well as $15.5 billion for IDEA Part B, a $3.1 billion increase over FY 2021 levels.

“We make a historic investment in K-12 education by meeting President Biden’s commitment to more than double Title I grants to a new level of $36 billion … to strengthen federal support for high poverty schools and high-quality education for all students,” said Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., during the July 12 markup. “We all know how education can serve as the great equalizer that opens doors and opportunities for jobs, higher wages, and a better life, but we know that it can only serve as this great equalizer if and only if it is affordable, accessible, and achievable for all.”

The bill would also provide $1.1 billion for the School Safety National Activities program, compared with an FY 2021 enacted level of $106 million. Of that increase, $500 million would be used for Mental Health Services Professional Demonstration Grants, and $500 million would be used for School-Based Mental Health Services Grants.

The proposed legislation also includes two provisions that limit the use of funds for specific educational institutions. According to the bill text, “none of the funds” may be used by ED to “support an education institution that engages in the use of electric shock devices and equipment for aversive conditioning or disciplining of students.”

In addition, the proposed bill says federal funds may not be awarded to charter schools that contract with a for-profit charter management operation or other group that would “operate, oversee, or manage” the school.

Top-line spending levels as well as several noneducation-related policy provisions included in the bill drew opposition from GOP leaders.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole, R-Okla., said he agreed with proposed funding levels for special education, TRIO, and GEAR UP, but the overall proposal would not receive support from congressional Republicans. “While the bill does fund many good things … I’ll be opposing the bill today. The price tag is too high, and the bill contains many poison-pill policy riders, funding for unauthorized programs, and bows to a leftist agenda that’s out of step with the American people.”

House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, expressed similar concerns, adding, “I fear that continuing to pursue these unrealistic spending levels without bipartisan buy-in could leave all of government in a continuing resolution in October.”

If both chambers of Congress fail to pass spending bills and send them to President Biden’s desk to sign before midnight on Sept. 30, they must pass a continuing resolution to extend federal funding beyond Oct. 1 to avoid a shutdown.

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to conduct a markup of the bill on July 15.

Charles Hendrix covers education funding and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.