Friday, April 23, 2010

Senate Committee Passes Budget Resolution

Yesterday, the Senate Budget Committee approved the FY11 budget resolution by a 12-10 vote. The budget resolution provides an aggregate level for discretionary spending that is $4 billion below the President’s budget for FY11. The administration proposed to shift $17.7 billion for Pell in FY11 from discretionary to mandatory, but the budget resolution adjusted it back to discretionary spending. The budget also assumes that the $5.5 billion Pell shortfall will be paid off, but it does not provide funds to do so. Therefore, in order to shore up the shortfall, other programs will need to be cut by $5.5 billion. (The budget resolution serves as a guideline for appropriators but is not binding.) Pell Grant funding continues to be the thorniest issue and there is some concern about the how the funding situation will be addressed.

Prior to approval of the budget resolution, the committee passed an amendment by a 16-6 vote. The amendment requires 60 senators to vote in favor of spending more than 20 percent of savings from the reconciliation on new programs. It appears that the budget resolution will come to the floor in a few weeks after the Senate deals with the financial reform bill. The President does not sign the resolution.

In other news, Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010, the bill introduced by Senator Harkin (S. 3206), now has 20 cosponsors, the newest being Sens. Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Ted Kaufman (D-DE). Sen. Harkin is continuing to gather co-sponsors and plans to attach the bill as part of a supplemental appropriations legislation.

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