NAICU Washington Update

House Makes Pell Top Priority

The House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education appropriations wrote its FY 2009 funding bill on June 19. With $8 billion more than the president's request, it sets student aid funding as a top priority, allocating $3.1 billion towards increasing the Pell Grant maximum by $169, to $4,410. If enacted, this would be combined with the automatic increase of $490, making a total Pell Grant maximum for the 2009-2010 school year $4,900. This is $100 over the president's budget request, which proposed a $69 increase in the Pell Grant maximum, for a total of $4,800 ($4,310 appropriated, plus $490 previously set-aside from the student loan programs).

The House bill rejects the president's budget proposal to eliminate funding for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans, and LEAP state grants and instead keeps those programs level funded. The House bill also slightly increases TRIO and GEAR UP.

The Senate Subcommittee and the House Full Committee on Appropriations are scheduled to vote on this bill June 26.

How the administration reacts to the subcommittee bills will determine how much further into the process Congress ventures this year. House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) has already stated that if the President Bush lobs veto threats and doesn=t offer to negotiate, Obey will hold off on further action until after the new president takes office.

MORE News from NAICU