Government Relations Report Archive


COABE Government Relations Report

July 5, 2016

Dear COABE Members,

The thermometer hit 90 degrees and it can truthfully be said that in Washington, we are generating at least as much heat as light. Official Washington is increasingly focused on the Presidential campaigns and the November elections. Next week Congress adjourns for almost two months (July 18-September 5), for the conventions and to campaign. The recess could signal the end of the legislative process until after the elections in November.
As you recall, some Congressional Committees write legislation (the House Education and Workforce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee write legislation structuring Education programs, including Adult Education), while the Appropriations Committees in each House decide how much money each program will actually receive in a given year. Congress is now immersed in the Appropriations process in which each of the 12 Appropriations Subcommittees determine exactly how much money to allocate to each line item in the budget.
Despite a budget agreement last year that set caps on spending and a commitment from the Congressional leadership to act expeditiously on spending, things have bogged down.
In 2017, issues other than dollars and cents have slowed down the Appropriators. These include a controversial amendment to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination, a fight over gun control, how to fund the effort to combat the Zika virus, and other non-funding provisions called "riders" that Members try to attach to spending bills to either encourage (or more frequently) prevent the Administration from taking a particular action.
While the House and Senate are still committed to passing individual appropriations bills, time is running out, and few individual bills will have been considered. This year's appropriations process is effectively over.
The result will likely be a Continuing Resolution of indeterminate length followed by an Omnibus bill developed in a lame duck session, convened after the election. The results of the elections will go a long way to determining the length and content of these bills.
FY 2017 Appropriations:
The House Labor HHS Appropriations subcommittee marked up today. It froze Adult Education at the FY 2016 level (as did the Senate). The House bill funds Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I Adult and Youth programming at current FY2016 levels and would slightly increase Dislocated Worker formula grants. It freezes Career and Technical Education grants at Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 levels. The House bill would not continue increased investments in apprenticeship authorized in FY 2016 and proposed in the Senate for FY 2017.
Like the Senate, the House bill used funds from the Pell Grant surplus to mitigate the impact of spending caps. The bill took spending about $1.3 billion from the $7.8 billion surplus, though the maximum Pell Grant award would still rise to $5,935 next year. The House version of the bill does not does not restore year-round Pell Grants, a priority for many colleges and universities.
Some Democrats and Higher Education advocates are opposed to using these funds. In a letter to Labor HHS Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole, Rep. Bobby Scott (senior Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee) and others wrote "we strongly oppose any harmful cuts to Pell funding in this year's appropriations vehicle that will make college more expensive for students in future years" and that "The LHHS appropriations bill should not balance other funding needs on the backs of low-income college students."
The House bill increases funding for the National Institutes of Health by $1.25 billion (versus $2 billion in the Senate) It also would provide a $500 million increase for IDEA special education grants and would fund the Student Support and Academic Achievement Grants under the Every Student Succeeds Act at $1 billion.
- The bill also contains several policy riders to prevent implementation of several of the Obama administration's higher education regulations, including: the "gainful employment" rule aimed at mostly for-profit colleges, forthcoming teacher preparation rules, state authorization regulations as well as the federal definition of a credit hour.
The Senate acted on its version of the bill last month and froze Adult Education state grants ($582 million) and funds for National Leadership Activities ($13.7 million) at the FY 2016 level. In addition, it restored "Year Round Pell," which allows students to receive a second grant to take a third semester of classes in an academic year, in order to graduate sooner. The program would affect approximately a million students, and the average recipient would be expected to receive $1,650 more in aid. The bill supports an increase in the maximum Pell grant to an estimated $5,935 for the 2017-18 school year.
As you know, COABE will be on Capitol Hill on September 28 to visit with legislators to advocate fore additional funding for Adult Education.
Other Legislation: Perkins Act Reauthorization
On Thursday, the House Education and Workforce Committee unanimously approved its version of a CTE Reauthorization bill called "The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (HR 5587). " The Committee made several changes to the draft bill introduced earlier this week. The amended version of the bill should become available next week.
From the perspective of Adult Education, the bill adopts concepts, such as career pathways and sector partnerships, and terminology from WIOA and is designed to simplify the state CTE plan by allowing states to submit a combined plan for CTE and WIOA.
According to the CTE community, the Committee does not have a commitment from the House leadership for Floor time to allow the full House consider the bill.
WIOA Rules and Regulations:
On June 30, the Departments of Labor and Education issued the long-anticipated WIOA Regulations:

All of the information listed below is available from the DOL/ETA Web site:

Final Rules 

Final Rules Resources

Quick Reference Guides

Frequently Asked Questions

Fact Sheets


Tom Nash, President
Sharon Bonney, Executive Director
Polly Smith, Public Policy Chair