November 1, 2019(1)

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FY20 Education Funding Still in Limbo

On Thursday, the Senate took the first step to advance the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 appropriations process by passing a bipartisan package of bills that would fund the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Science, Interior, Environment, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

Unfortunately, the fate of the Defense-Labor-HHS-Education minibus, which includes our slice of the pie for education funding, is far from certain. Specifically, negotiations have stalled for two reasons. The first obstacle concerns disagreements over Defense spending, as Senate Democrats are adamantly against the Trump Administration’s proposal to transfer FY 2019 military construction money to build a southern border wall. The second impediment to the process is the top-line spending numbers for the Departments of Labor-HHS-Education. Under the Senate appropriations bill, the allocation freezes funding for the Departments of Labor-HHS-Education at the FY 2019 level, even though Congress enacted an overall $27 billion increase in non-defense discretionary funding for FY 2020. As a contrast, the Energy-Water bill that was passed this week includes a 9% funding increase. Level funding Education is a non-starter for Senate Democrats, as the House bill allocated 1 billion in additional funding for both IDEA and Title I.

At this point, Congressional leaders know they don't have enough time to pass the 12 spending bills that fund the federal government before the end of the fiscal year on November 21st and agree that another CR is necessary to avoid a government shutdown. Since our update last week there seems to be growing consensus by Democratic and Republican leadership that the next CR shouldn't last beyond Dec 31st so that appropriators are pressured to pass the 2020 spending bills. However, considering the outstanding issues between the two parties, the impeachment inquiry, and the amount of time left on the congressional calendar, it's looking more likely that we'll end up with a year-long continuing resolution, which as you'll recall will decrease the purchasing power of LEAs. That said, the fight is far from over. Regardless, AASA will keep you up to date on all the latest funding movements on Capitol Hill.

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