Legislative Alert

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SENATE TAKES UP FY 19 LABOR-HHS APPROPRIATIONS BILL

For the first time in over a decade, the Senate has taken their version of the FY 19 Labor-HHS bill to the floor, with a host of amendments to be offered this week. Leadership officials expected to debate a host of floor amendments with the completion of the bill to occur sometime before Labor Day. The Labor-HHS bill has been attached to the FY 19 Defense Appropriations bill, which is the most popular of all of the appropriations bills, in order to give it additional leverage for passage.

The Senate Labor-HHS bill has been a bipartisan effort that provides $2 billion more in overall funding (just over one percent),  

It includes an overall increase for the Department of Education of $541 million and cuts the Department of Labor by $92 million. The good news is our key program priorities are either funded at current levels or would receive an increase:

  • WIOA Title II programs would receive a $25 million increase;
  • WIOA Title I formula programs for Adults and Youth are funded at current levels;
  • Career and Technical Education programs are level funded;
  • Pell Grants would be increased by $100 million.

HOUSE BILL STALLED

While significant progress is being made in the Senate, it is unclear when or if the FY 19 House Labor-HHS bill will move forward. The bill is flat-funded, with no more overall funding than in FY 18 --- which resulted in a highly partisan fight over funding in the full Appropriations Committee, with the bill passing without the support of any Democrats.

Of particular interest to us, the House bill provides the Department of Education with a modest $43 million increase above current levels and the Department of Labor would be cut $82 million. 

While the Employment and Training Administration was reduced by $216 million, WIOA Title I formula programs would continue at FY 18 levels.  

Key education programs were largely funded at current levels including WIOA Title II Adult Education and Literacy programming and Pell Grants. However, the House bill does propose a $102 million increase for Career and Technical Education programs.

At this point, it is questionable whether the House Labor-HHS will pass on the floor, unless some Democrats can be convinced to vote for the bill, which will be difficult without a significant increase in overall funding --- which is highly unlikely to occur, as a number of House conservatives oppose the bill in its current form.  

WHAT TO EXPECT MOVING FORWARD

Regardless of whether we see any further movement of the Labor-HHS bill in the House, at some point, there will be a conference between the House and Senate to hammer out the details of a final FY 19 Labor-HHS appropriations bill. We do not expect that these negotiations will conclude until after the November elections, but unlike last year, where we had another six-month wait after the commencement of the fiscal year to finalize the appropriations bills, the FY 19 negotiations should wrap up rather soon after the elections. In the interim, we encourage your support for the Senate's $25 million increase for Adult Education and Literacy programs.