Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reconciliation Bill Update

Today, Congress and the Administration continue to work on gathering support for a reconciliation bill that will contain the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) and health-care reform legislation. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release its finding on the pending legislation soon, which will provide the funding and budget outlines within the bill. This aspect is critical to gathering additional support for the bill. House leaders have indicated that they would like a vote on a final bill by the end of the weekend.

On the SAFRA front, there have been indications that the funding for the American Graduation Initiative (AGI) may not be included within the reconciliation bill. AGI funding is in jeopardy because Congress is using a new CBO score of SAFRA, resulting in $67 billion in savings ($20 billion less than the House passed SAFRA). The SAFRA savings is generated through the conversion of the Federal Family Education Loan Program into the Direct Loan Program. The score, coupled with the rise in Pell Grant-eligible students, has reduced the amount of funding available for AGI. Additionally, some Senators object to creating new bills in the reconciliation process. The SAFRA funding will be primarily focused on funding a Pell Grant maximum increase and deficit reduction.

On the Jobs bill front, the Senate passed its first installment of the Jobs Bill, a $17.6 billion jobs bill, by a vote of 68-29. The bill includes a payroll tax break for new hires, a small-business expensing provision, surface-transportation funding, and bond financing for infrastructure projects. The House passed the bill earlier; the bill will now be forwarded to President Obama for his signature. President Obama is expected to sign the bill. Congress is continuing efforts to move other pieces of Jobs legislation.


The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration announced the Community-Based Job Training Grant competition for this year. The closing date for the competition will be April 29th. Funded at $125 million, the awards will be distributed to “support workforce training for high-growth/high-demand industries through the national system of community, technical, and Tribal colleges.”

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