Thursday, March 10, 2011

Senate Fails to Advance FY 2011 Spending Measures; 2nd Comm. College Summit Convenes

The Senate voted on two competing measures today to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2011 (through September 30), and both failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to advance the legislation. The House-passed continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 1, which would cut $66 billion from current spending levels, failed in the Senate by a vote of 44 to 56, with all Democrats and three Republicans opposed. The Senate Democratic alternative CR, which would cut $8.7 billion from current levels, failed by a vote of 42 to 58, with all Republicans and ten Democrats opposed. The Senate Democratic alternative would have maintained the $5,550 Pell Grant maximum for the upcoming academic year, but it also would have rescinded the $125 million in funding for the Career Pathways Innovation Fund (CPIF) and the $561 million in funding for the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG).

Senate leaders did not expect either measure to pass; they intend to use the votes to create pressure for a bipartisan compromise. It remains unclear at what funding level the House and Senate will come to an agreement. The current bill funding government operations ends on March 18th. It is unlikely that a compromise will be reached and passed by that time, so another short-term funding measure will need to be enacted to prevent a government shutdown.

In other news today, the U.S. Department of Education kicked off the second in a series of four regional community college summits. Held at Lone Star College System in Houston, TX, today’s summit focuses on “Successful Transfer Programs.” More information is available at:

Also, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Education & Workforce Committee today on the Department of Education’s budget and policy proposals. Sec. Duncan discussed the reauthorization of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and stressed the need to maintain investments in education, including federal student aid. Sec. Duncan also requested legislation to enact the Presidents FY 2012 proposals for the Pell Grant, including the elimination of “summer Pell” and the in-school interest subsidy for graduate student loans, which would save $20 billion in FY 2012. Sec. Duncan will testify on the Department of Education’s FY 2012 budget proposal again tomorrow before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Finally, videos of the 2011 Community College National Legislative Summit are now available at

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