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House GOP Aims to Cut Education Funding, Including Obama Priorities

The House Appropriations Committee unveiled its education spending proposal Tuesday morning, which would slash funding for the U.S. Department of Education and its federal education programs by nearly $3 billion.

The bulk of those cuts come from eliminating a slate of nearly 20 programs, including many high-profile Obama administration priorities like the School Improvement Grants, the Preschool Development Grant, Investing in Innovation, and the Teacher Incentive Fund.

Overall, the Education Department would be funded to the tune of $64.4 billion—that's $2.8 billion below the fiscal year 2015 level and $6.4 billion below President Barack Obama's budget request. You can read the text of the fiscal proposal here.

The spending plan is just the latest in the larger battle over whether and how to avoid across-the-board federal spending cuts known as "sequestration." Congress was able to come up with a temporary deal to alleviate the cuts for both military programs and domestic ones, like education. But that deal expires this fall, and then the across-the-board 8 percent cuts return in full force.

Notably, the president has promised to veto any spending bill that locks in sequester-level funding. But the House budget, which lawmakers released in March, directed appropriators to do just that and they did (and then some). In fact, the proposed spending level for federal education programs makes funding cuts below that of the pre-2008 sequester level.

Here's a run-down of the programs eliminated under GOP spending plan, according to the Committee for Education Funding, a Washington-based education advocacy organization:


The appropriations package maintains spending for Title I for low-income students and a few other programs. Overall, the bill would:

  • Maintain the fiscal year 2015 enacted level for Title I at $14.5 billion
  • Maintain the fiscal year 2015 enacted level for Promise Neighborhoods at $57 billion.
  • Maintain the fiscal year 2015 level for the Education Department's office for civil rights at $100 million.
  • Include $737 million for English Language Acquisition grants, a slight, $3 million decrease from the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.

The appropriations package would provide increases for a select few programs:

  • $12 billion for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, an increase of more than $500 million over fiscal 2015.
  • $275 million for grants to support the creation of new charter schools, an increase of $22 million over fiscal 2015.
  • $1.3 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $10 million above fiscal year 2015. (Impact Aid funds schools that miss out on local tax revenue from the federal government, either because they are located on federal land, such as Army bases and Native American reservations, or have a lot of federally connected students.)
  • Include $144 million for American Indian education, an increase of $20 million over fiscal 2015.
  • $8.8 billion for Head Start, an increase of $192 million ($150 million of that increase will go to Early Head Start).
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