Tuesday, May 25, 2010

House Announces Supplemental Appropriations Bill Outline

Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced that he was not going to offer his bill, S. 3206, the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010, as an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill because S. 3206 did not have the support of 60 senators. Chairman Harkin noted that the majority of the senators supported the bill, but without additional support the amendment would have failed. The Senate is expected to conclude its version of the bill this week.

Meanwhile, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) announced today that he was going to include $23 billion for education jobs within the House Supplemental Appropriations bill. Unfortunately, the House bill would only apply to K-12 education and exclude public higher education. However, Chairman Obey also announced that the House bill will contain $5.7 billion to cover the Pell Grant shortfall. While this does not account for the entire Pell Grant shortfall, it does cover most of the shortfall, which will provide flexibility for appropriators during the appropriations process. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider its bill later this week.

In other news, Congressional leaders are continuing to gather support for the “tax extenders” bill, which covers a number of tax provisions that have strong bi-partisan support, and which have expired or are about to expire. The overall cost of the bill, $192 billion, is causing some members to question whether this bill is necessary given the current economic climate. House leaders would like a final vote on the “tax extenders” bill prior to the Memorial Day recess period.

For community colleges, the extenders bill contains important changes to the Community College and Career Training Grant (CCCTG) program funded by the reconciliation bill. The CCCTG program is funded at $500 million for fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. According to the summary, the provisions included in the bill would expand the program by authorizing the grants to benefit individuals who are eligible for unemployment insurance, who are likely to be eligible for unemployment insurance (according to specific criteria), or who have exhausted their unemployment insurance. Additionally, the provisions would: (1) clarify that only public and non-profit educational institutions are eligible for grants; (2) authorize the Department of Labor to spend up to five percent of program funds to administer, evaluate, and establish reporting systems for the program; and (3) give the Department of Labor more flexibility by allowing it to obligate grant funds in the year that they are appropriated as well as the subsequent fiscal year. The changes outlined for the community college grant program do not have a cost and rather only affects how the program will function.

The summary of the bill can viewed at: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/111/America_Jobs_Summary.pdf

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