Editor’s note: This new weekly update from the government relations office at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) provides the latest on what’s happening in Washington and how AACC is advancing policies to support community colleges and students. Send questions, feedback and more to: email@example.com.
Cardona to defend Biden budget as debt limit debate continues
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will appear before the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday to defend the Biden administration’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2024. He appeared before the House Labor-HHS Subcommittee in April.
The president’s FY 24 budget request includes a $820 increase to the maximum Pell Grant, a federal-state partnership to create a national free community college program (alongside a smaller competitive grant program) and increases to key community college programs like the Title III-A Strengthening Institutions Program and Child Care Access Means Parents in School.
But now, Cardona will play defense and advocate against cuts to key ED programs.
In April, House Republicans passed the Limit, Save, and Grow Act, which approves a debt-ceiling increase but caps discretionary spending at FY 2022 levels, in effect slashing funding for programs across agencies. The plan would also block Biden’s student debt relief plan, block the implementation of his administration’s revised Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan, and constrain the education secretary’s authority to make changes to the student loan program.
ED released a scathing statement against the proposed cuts, saying that the plan would decrease program funding by 22% and significantly decrease the generosity of the Pell Grant program.
While the House bill is considered dead-on-arrival in the Senate, it will serve as a template for House funding goals and puts severe downward pressure on spending for all domestic programs. Advocates expect Cardona to reiterate his earlier statement and urge Senate appropriators to protect key ED programs as the spending process moves forward.
Debt cancellation plan faces another challenge
This week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce marks up House Resolution 45, which invokes the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify Biden’s broad student debt cancellation plan. Republicans have staunchly opposed the executive action but began pursuing this legislative challenge after the Government Accountability Office clarified that the action qualified as a “rule” and is subject to the CRA. It is extremely unlikely that the resolution will advance in the Senate. However, the CRA challenge underscores Congressional Republicans’ continued energy around this issue.
Workforce development back in the limelight
While appropriations, the debt ceiling and student debt have dominated higher education conversations on Capitol Hill, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce remains interested in workforce development issues. On Thursday, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce development will host a hearing titled “Examining America’s Workforce Challenges: Looking for Ways to Improve Skill Development.” AACC will watch closely for references to expanding Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in shorter-term programs, a key workforce development priority for policymakers on both sides of the aisle.
Applications are open for key community college funding opportunities:
- Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) – Due May 22
- Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Program – Due May 30
- Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) Program – Due June 12
- Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program – Due July 7 for the first round
For more information on these issues, visit the Community College Advocacy Updates page on our website.