NAICU Washington Update

Congress Passes Budget Plan

May 17, 2007

This afternoon (May 17), both the House and Senate debated the FY 2008 budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21), and both chambers passed the plan within minutes of each other.  The House voted 214 to 209, and the Senate voted 52 to 40.

Flipping back and forth between C-SPAN and C-SPAN-2, it was evident that both parties in both chambers had coordinated talking points.  The Democrats focused on selling their budget resolution as a return to fiscal responsibility while increasing the federal investment in important national priorities like education, veterans' benefits, and health care.  The Republicans said the budget plan calls for a tax increase and more spending, and claimed that the Democrats want to spend taxpayer's money while the Republicans want Americans to be able to keep their own money.

The budget plan, which does not have to be approved by the president, includes $9.5 billion more than the president's budget for the education category.  How that amount will be divided up between student aid and K-12 education will be up to the education appropriations subcommittee when they write a bill later this month.

The budget resolution also includes a reconciliation instruction to the education committees to find $750 million in savings to put towards deficit reduction by September 10.  When the education committees act on this instruction, it will give them an opportunity to make changes to the student loan programs that would shift spending on lender subsidies to student benefits, possibly increasing grant aid.  How this bill and the other pieces of the Higher Education Act reauthorization come together will play out over the next couple of months.