Shortly before midnight on October 27, the White House in conjunction with House and Senate leadership announced a bipartisan two-year budget deal that would lift sequester caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, which includes federal education programs. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 would increase NDD spending by $25 billion in FY 2016 and by $15 billion for FY 2017. There was also an increase of $8 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for both 2016 and 2017.
This legislation passed the House on October 28 by a vote of 266-177 and the Senate by a vote of 64-35 on October 30 at 3:00 a.m. after Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) filibuster attempt fell short. President Obama issued this statement after the bill passed and signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law on November 2.
While this bipartisan agreement is a major victory after months of partisan squabbling, the appropriations process is far from over. Now that the sequester caps have been lifted, appropriators must come together to figure out how to spend the $33 billion in non-defense discretionary relief across the 12 subcommittees, which includes one overseeing the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The goal is to pass an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2016 before the continuing resolution expires on December 11. That bill would determine funding for Title I, IDEA, and other federal education programs for the 2016-17 school year.
Unfortunately, a government shutdown is still a possibility, and President Obama has made it clear that he will not sign legislation that includes “policy riders” such as a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, and Senate Minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has echoed this sentiment.
NASSP will continue to advocate for significant increases to key education programs while also educating legislators about how a government shutdown would adversely affect students, educators, and schools. As omnibus negotiations continue to unfold, NASSP will keep you informed here on the School of Thought blog.