Washington Watch: House Republicans seek big cuts in spending bill


The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday released a partisan fiscal year (FY) 2025 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS-ED) appropriations bill that, as expected, would make deep cuts to many education and job training programs. The LHHS-ED appropriations subcommittee will mark up the bill on Thursday, and the full committee is slated to take up the measure on July 10.

The LHHS-ED bill would cut spending for the programs in its purview by 11% ($24.6 billion). Within that total, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is cut by 22% ($3 billion) and the U.S. Education Department by 14% ($11 billion). As deep as these cuts are, they are not as drastic as the cuts proposed in the House FY 24 appropriations bills.

While proposed funding for all programs in the bill is not yet known (full programmatic details are in a chart that is not released until just before the full appropriations committee markup), information contained in the bill text and Republican and Democratic summaries reveal most of those details.

Some programs of interest to community colleges are eliminated altogether, including:

• Childcare Access Means Parents in School
• Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth funding

Several more would be cut substantially, including:

• 50% reductions to the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work Study Programs
• Near-elimination of WIOA adult funding for the coming program year
• DOL apprenticeship programs would be almost cut in half

Other programs stayed on an even keel when compared to FY 24:

• Pell grants (maximum award would remain at $7,395)
• The DOL Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant program ($65 million)
• WIOA dislocated worker funding

There are a few funding upticks to be found in the bill, including:

• A net increase of $5 million for Perkins CTE programs
• $18 million more for Higher Education Act Title III programs (though it is not yet known exactly how this is parceled out among the programs)

Overall context

The appropriations process is unfolding in much the same way as it did last year, with the House considering appropriations bills that substantially cut spending for non-defense programs and the Senate expected to take a different, bipartisan approach. In FY 24, that resulted in final appropriations legislation that kept funding for most education and job training programs the same as in FY 23.

Last year, because of even deeper cuts, there were enough Republicans who did not support the House LHHS-ED funding bill to prevent the full appropriations committee from considering it, and a later attempt to bring the bill directly to the House floor was abandoned. It remains to be seen whether the cuts made in this year’s bill will result in a similar fate, but opposition from stakeholders will be fierce.

While most stakeholders hope that the Senate process also echoes last year, Senate leaders have yet to agree on overall FY 25 spending levels. The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), passed last year to avoid a debt crisis, capped spending for both FY 24 and FY 25. The caps for non-defense programs were set lower than current spending levels but were augmented by an additional $69 billion for each of FY 24 and 25 in a “side deal” that kept spending roughly equal to FY 23 levels.

That agreement was later revised after House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) took over, and some of the “side deal” money earmarked for FY 25 was instead used in FY 24, leaving Congress in the hole by about $15 billion at the outset of FY 25. This is presumably a major reason why Senate leaders have yet to agree on next year’s spending levels.

The Republican-backed House FY 25 appropriations bills ignore the “side deal” money altogether and simply spend up to the caps set in the FRA, which, as noted, are well below the enacted FY 24 spending levels.

About the Author

Jim Hermes
Jim Hermes is associate vice president of government relations at the American Association of Community Colleges.
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