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House Approves Bill With $716 Million Increase to Federal Education Spending

Legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of last week would increase K-12 spending on disadvantaged students by roughly $250 million, along with funding boosts for special education, teacher training, and more.

On Friday, the Democrat-controlled House approved a series of spending bills by a vote of 217-197 that included $73.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal 2021. That funding for the department would provide $6.9 billion more than proposed by President Donald Trump earlier this year, and $716 million than current Education Department spending in fiscal 2020. 

However, while fiscal 2021 is due to start Oct. 1, you shouldnt' expect that Congress will enact new spending levels before that date. Between the focus on the coronavirus and a looming presidential election, it could be a few months before we get a final spending deal. The House and the Senate, which has yet to adopt its own final spending figures for different federal agencies for fiscal 2021, could end up being far apart when they sit down to negoiate. 

The House bill was introduced close to a month ago. Here are a few highlights from a summary from Democrats of the House-approved legislation:

  • "$16.6 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $254 million above the FY 2020 enacted level."
  • "$14.1 billion for Special Education, an increase of $208 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $108 million above the President's budget request."
  • "$2.2 billion for Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants (Title II-A), an increase of $23 million above the FY 2020 enacted level."
  • "$400 million for the Charter School Program, $40 million below the FY 2020 enacted level."
  • "$2 billion for Career, Technical and Adult Education, an increase of $25 million above the FY 2020 enacted level and $738 million below the President's budget request."

This bill from Democrats is not focused mainly on providing emergency relief to schools due to the impact of the pandemic; federal lawmakers are still negotiating a new COVID-19 relief package. Yet when the bill passed the House on Friday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the chariwoman of the House subcommittee that controls education spending, said, "Now is the time for us to move boldly and swiftly to defeat the virus, and the racial disparities it has exposed in health, education, and the economy."

The proposed fiscal 2021 budget from Trump included a pitch to fold several big federal education programs into a flexible block grant for states. That idea has been ignored by lawmakers, however. 

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