House ed committee passes funding legislation

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The House Education and Labor Committee on Friday approved its $761 billion component of a House reconciliation bill that would expand federal Pell grants and establish free community college tuition in participating states.

The legislation comprises the committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act, a massive $3.5 trillion bill that Congressional Democrats are attempting to pass through a process called budget reconciliation. The committee’s $761 billion measure passed along party lines, 28 to 22.

For community colleges, the highlight of the bill is the inclusion of a modified version of the America’s College Promise Act, which would provide for tuition-free community college for eligible students in participating states. (See last week’s AACC analysis of the legislation). The bill also would add $500 to the maximum Pell Grant award for award years 2022-23 through 2029-30.

Also on Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee continued its markup of its provisions of the reconciliation package that would approve a reauthorizing of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, which includes $9.1 billion over seven years for a revamped Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges and Career Training grants program.

Despite the good news, advocates note that plenty of hurdles remain for the legislation. Democrats continue to disagree within their own ranks about the size and scope of the overall bill as House Democratic leaders negotiate with their Senate colleagues.

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