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On December 13, the Senate voted 56-40 to pass the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act “CRomnibus” spending bill, H.R. 83. The same measure was narrowly passed by the House of Representatives earlier in the week, by a margin of 219-206. President Obama has already announced that he will sign the legislation.
The measure funds most government operations through the end of the fiscal year, while funding the Department of Homeland Security through February 2015. Passage of the CRomnibus avoids a damaging government shutdown, or another continuing resolution (CR), which would essentially allow the nation to run on auto-pilot, and could have resulted in funding cuts later in the fiscal year.
The legislation provides small increases in funding for several key education and training programs, and importantly, partially restores the Ability-to-Benefit (AtB) provision of Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The AtB provision allows students lacking a high school diploma or its equivalent to access federal financial aid if they are enrolled in an eligible career pathway program and can demonstrate college success. For more details on what was included in the legislation, visit NSC’s earlier blog post.
Following reports that the Senate was in danger of failing to pass the CRomnibus, National Skills Coalition wrote to members of the Senate urging them to vote in favor of the legislation.
Soon after the new Congress is seated next month, the House and Senate Budget committees will begin work on the FY 2016 budget. Unlike in FY 2014 and 2015, when topline spending levels were set by the Bipartisan Budget Act, there is no agreement in place to reduce the impact of sequestration or the budgetary caps in FY 2016. As a result, workforce development programs could again be exposed to significant funding cuts. Last month, National Skills Coalition wrote to the Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, urging the Administration to ensure that its FY 2016 budget request includes adequate investments in job training and adult education programs. National Skills Coalition will provide updates on the budget process as it moves forward.
Photo Credit: White House Photostream