Senate Subcommittee moves forward bipartisan spending bill to fund workforce and education programs

By Katie Spiker, June 26, 2018

Earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) moved forward a bipartisan funding bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Senate appropriators were working with an allocation of $2.2 billion more in funding than the subcommittee had in FY 2018, unlike the House process for which appropriators had level funding.

The Senate bill is not yet available online, but a committee summary describes level funding for state formula grants under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, increased funding for apprenticeship programs ($15 million more than in FY2018, up to $160 million) and Adult Education state grants ($642 million, $25 million more than in FY 2018) and an increase to the maximum Pell award of $100, bringing the max to $6,195. The Senate bill would level fund Career and Technical Education programs; the House version would increase funding by $115 million over FY 2018 levels. Earlier this week, a group of bipartisan members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee introduced a reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that advanced through committee and is expected to be considered on the floor in the coming weeks.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark-up the bill on Thursday, June 28th. The House appropriations process has stalled this week after the full Appropriations Committee mark-up of the House Labor-HHS bill was rescheduled, for a second time. The House process continues to be more partisan than that in the Senate, in part because of cuts required – including to WIOA Title III – to offset increases in other programming – including increases for National Institute of Health and an opioid response – under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction because the House subcommittee did not receive an increase in their allocation for FY 2019.

Despite the continued negotiations around the House bill, the House committee report included important recognition of the role of partnerships between industry, the workforce system, educators, and community organizations. In the report, the committee recognized the role of these industry partnerships in closing the skill gap, meeting employer needs and expanding apprenticeship across the country.

Once the both chambers advance their bills, Senate and House appropriators will meet to agree on final funding levels. The final spending on workforce and education programs is likely to be close to those in the Senate version of the bill.