Last week, the U.S. Congress passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 spending package that avoids a government shutdown by keeping the federal government funded through the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The bill provides $65.8 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of Education—an amount that reflects the 5 percent across-the-board cut mandated by the sequester—compared to $68.1 billion in FY 2012.
“This legislation provides funding for essential federal programs and services, helps maintain our national security, and takes a potential shutdown off the table,” said House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). “I’m proud that we were able to reach across the aisle—and across Capitol Hill—to produce a meaningful, bipartisan bill that funds the government responsibly. With the approval of this measure, we have laid the foundation for thoughtful and responsible consideration of appropriations bills, and can now focus our attention on next year’s work.”
An amendment offered by Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA)—which ultimately fell short of the sixty votes needed for passage—would have increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, child care, and education. Among education programs, the amendment would have provided a $107 million increase for Title I, which is targeted at low-income students; $125 million more for special education; and $14 million more for TRIO programs, which help low-income students progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to higher education.
“The spending package we’re considering this week leaves programs under the Labor-HHS-Education jurisdiction on autopilot,” said Harkin. “I am proposing to replace the autopilot version of the Labor-HHS bill with a detailed, thoughtful, bicameral, bipartisan compromise. This is not my Labor-HHS bill. If I had my druthers, every dollar in the bill would be spent exactly how I wanted. But of course, compromise doesn’t work that way. This amendment includes priorities from the other side of the aisle, and from the other side of the Capitol.”