Legislation
House Releases ED Appropriations Bill with Significant Cuts
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House Republicans introduced appropriations legislation Thursday for fiscal year (FY) 2024 which would fund the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (ED) (the funding year which education grantees will receive starting on July 1, 2024).  The legislation deviates from the overall FY 2024 funding levels agreed upon by Congress and the White House as part of the legislation to raise the debt ceiling earlier this year.  The legislation proposes a 28 percent, or $22.1 billion, cut compared to FY 2023 funding levels for ED and eliminates several K-12 and higher education programs.  Of that $22.1 billion cut, $10.4 billion is previously appropriated funding for education programs that would be distributed on October 1, 2023 for use in the upcoming school year. 
 
The legislation proposes a cut of $14.7 billion – comprised of both reduced funding and recissions of prior year funds – for Title I, Part A grants to local educational agencies under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and would eliminate several programs, including ESEA Title II, Part A; ESEA Title III, Part A; Promise Neighborhoods; Social Emotional Learning Grants; Magnet Schools; and Full-Service Community Schools.  According to House Republicans, the Title I-A cut was included due to the significant amount of funding provided by COVID-19 relief programs that schools still have access to, and a House Appropriations Committee summary says that “further investments will not be provided until these funds are used responsibly.”  Funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, charter schools, and Impact Aid would remain the same as FY 2023.
 
On the higher education side, the legislation would maintain the maximum Pell Grant amount at the current level and eliminate funding for Federal Work Study, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants, Teacher Quality Partnerships, and others.  The bill also would cut funding for Student Aid Administration by $265 million and Office for Civil Rights funding by $35 million.  Funding for Perkins Career and Technical Education programs and Adult Education programs would be flat-funded, while the legislation would eliminate funding for adult and youth worker programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
 
The legislation includes some policy provisions as well, including one that prohibits the use of federal funding to promote or advance Critical Race Theory.  It would also prohibit ED from implementing its proposed Title IX rules on sexual violence and athletics, as well as the administration’s recently finalized income-driven repayment plan and “on ramp” plan for restarting student loan payments later this year.
 
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies approved the legislation on Friday, sending it to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration.  The full committee markup has not yet been scheduled but could happen as soon as next week.  The Senate has not released its funding bill for education yet, but the Senate bill is expected to align with the debt ceiling legislation funding agreement, which will result in only slight cuts to education funding.  The stark differences expected between the House and Senate bills may indicate a challenging appropriations process for FY 2024.
About the Author

Kelly Christiansen is an associate with the Washington, DC law firm of The Bruman Group, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Association of State Program Administrators (NAESPA).