COABE NCSDAE Legislative Update: March 2018

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Do you think adult education is important? Do you value your work and the work of others in the field? If you do, then now is the time to stand up for adult ed and for our students.

While political Washington is focused on off-year special elections and gossipy Washington is placing bets on who in the President's cabinet is staying and who is leaving, the rest of us are paying attention to the fact that with a week to go, funding for Fiscal Year 2018 is not yet resolved.

As you may recall, the government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that is due to expire on March 23. That CR is expected to reflect the bi-partisan budget agreement that added $130 billion to non-defense discretionary spending for Fiscal Years 20189 and 2019.

While the Republican House Majority had hoped to complete the bill this week, the bill is still being worked on. Among the more contentious issues are funding for the opioid crisis, the border wall, and a proposed tunnel to run from New Jersey to New York (and back). There are also so-called "policy riders" including funding for Planned Parenthood, gun control, and immigration. Finally, there are bills that might not otherwise be considered that Members in both Houses want to attach to this "must pass" package.

We can say with a high degree of certainty, that everyone concerned wants this to be finished by the 23rd, so the Congress can finally focus on Fiscal Year 2019. The appropriations season begins with Cabinet secretaries testifying before Congress on the Administration's budget. Secretary DeVos is supposed to testify before the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday, March 20 at 10 am. It may be that her appearance will conflict with the legislative calendar and be rescheduled.

The DeVos hearing, if it takes place, will be webcast. You can watch it by going to the House Appropriations Committee website and following the prompts to get to the Labor-HHS subcommittee.

The President's Budget was released on February 12 and, among other reductions and eliminations, it proposed to cut Adult Education by $92.2 million or 16 percent. (See February 12 Budget Alert). When he testified before Congress, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said the President's FY 19 Budget did not reflect the bi-partisan budget agreement "given our dire fiscal situation, the Administration is not proposing to match the new non-defense cap in FY 2019.  The Administration does not believe these non-defense spending levels comport with its vision for the proper role and size of federal government."  Nevertheless, Appropriators are expected to abide by the agreement and ignore most of the Administration's proposals. COABE is in the process of completing its FY 2019 Hill Day plans, working with members of the House and Senate on a strategy to demonstrate support for Adult Ed on the Hill, and continuing to rally the field to contact their legislators to let them know that adult education is important. If we do not stand up for ourselves, and our students, who will?