House subcommittee proposes steep cuts to workforce, education programs for FY 2018

By Kermit Kaleba, July 13, 2017

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Subcommittee released its draft of the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018) Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill. The bill cuts funding across all three agencies – Department of Labor funding would be cut by $1 billion, or about 8 percent relative to current FY 2017 levels; the Department of Education would be cut by about $2.4 billion (about 3.5 percent lower than current levels); and the overall budget Health and Human Services would be cut by $542 million, about 7 percent lower than current levels.

Department of Labor

Department of Labor programs would see varying levels of spending reductions under the House bill. Funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I state formula grants would be cut by approximately $86 million overall, or about 3 percent below current levels, though cuts would disproportionately impact the adult and youth funding streams, which are reduced by nearly five percent relative to FY 2017 appropriations. While the Dislocated Worker state formula program is not as heavily impacted by cuts, the bill does propose significant reductions to the DW national reserve fund, cutting the FY 2018 appropriation by nearly $90 million compared to FY 2017, and rescinding $200 million in DW national reserve funds that were appropriated in the FY 2017 bill, for a combined cut of nearly $300 million.

The draft bill eliminates funding for Title III Wagner-Peyser Employment Services (ES) state grants, a cut of $671 million. If enacted, such a cut would have a dramatic impact on the ability of states and local communities to provide critical job search and reemployment services for the more than 13 million individuals participating in ES each year. The draft bill also eliminates $95 million in funding for apprenticeship expansion, and does not renew $6 million in funding for the Workforce Data Quality Initiative, just weeks after the White House released an Executive Order prioritizing apprenticeship as a strategy to improve workforce education and training, and calling for federal agencies to evaluate workforce programs they administer.

Some national programs under DOL would also be impacted, with migrant and seasonal farmworker programs cut by nearly $10 million, ex-offender grants cut by about $6 million, and Job Corps cur by $16 million. The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) would also be transferred from DOL to Health and Human Services, and funding for the program would be cut by $100 million, to $300 million.

Department of Education

The Department of Education generally sees fewer cuts to key workforce programs under the House bill, as Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) state grants, and Adult Education and Family Literacy state grants under WIOA Title II would be funded at current levels. The President’s FY 2018 budget request had called for cuts of 15 percent to state CTE grants and 16 percent to adult education programs, in addition to steep cuts to DOL programs.

The bill does propose rescinding $3.3 billion from the Pell reserve, on top of $1.3 billion rescinded from the Pell reserve in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriations bill. While this does not directly impact award levels for students in the upcoming academic year – the maximum award remains flat at $5,920 – it potentially undermines the fiscal sustainability of the program in the long term by reducing the ability to respond to increased enrollments.  

The subcommittee will mark up the bill this afternoon, and the full House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on the bill on July 19th. The Senate is not as far along in the appropriations process as the House and is not expected to begin marking up appropriations bills prior to the August recess. Fiscal Year 2017 ends September 30th, so Congress needs to pass a spending bill or approve continued funding at 2017 levels by that time. 

National Skills Coalition strongly opposes the proposed cuts to critical education and workforce programs, and we will work with our national, state, and local partners to ensure that lawmakers understand the importance of these investments for U.S. workers and businesses. We will provide updates to the field as new information becomes available and provide opportunities for advocates in the field to communicate with their policymakers when our voices can have the greatest impact.

Selected Education and Workforce Programs

FY 2017 Omnibus

FY 2018 House Labor-HHS-ED bill

Difference FY 2017 – FY 2018

Department of Labor

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I – State Formula Grants




WIOA Adult




WIOA Dislocated Worker (includes national reserve)

$1,241,719,000 (pre-rescission);

$1,041,719,000 (post-rescission)


State formula grants reduced by $5,530,000; DW National Reserve cut by $90,859,000 relative to enacted FY ’17 levels

WIOA Youth




Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service Grants




Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants




Apprenticeship Grants




Native American Programs




Ex-Offender Activities




Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers




Youth Build




Department of Education

Career and Technical Education State Grants




Adult Education and Family Literacy State Grants