NAICU Washington Update

FY 2015 Student Aid Funding Stalled

July 08, 2014

While there’s no appetite in Congress for a government shutdown, the bipartisan congressional appropriators’ attempt at regular order for passing the FY 2015 spending bills has stalled.  Completion of the spending bills, including student aid funding, will most likely be delayed until a post-election lame duck session.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations has written 7 of the 12 annual spending bills, but has been unsuccessful at gaining passage on the floor.  It has not acted on spending bills for Labor-HHS-Education, which funds student aid, Interior, Defense, Energy or Financial Services. The House Committee on Appropriations has written 10 of the 12 annual spending bills, but passed only five on the floor.  It also has not passed a Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.  No appropriations bills have been sent to the president for signature. 

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wrote an education funding bill in June that funds the scheduled $100 increase in the Pell Grant maximum award and increases all other student aid programs.  The same bill also restores funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health to $30 billion.  Sen. Harkin was poised to have the full committee take up the bill and prepare for floor time when the tentatively planned markup was indefinitely postponed.  Rumors of numerous amendments on the Affordable Care Act, unaccompanied alien children, and spending levels squashed the possibility of bipartisan regular order.

In the House, the full Appropriations Committee has not given up on the possibility of a markup of its version of a Labor-HHS-Education bill.  However, the mark-up will not be scheduled until after the July 22 run off primary election for the seat held by Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).  The election date is two weeks before the scheduled August recess.

Because there are only 26 days when Congress is in session before the October 1 start of the next fiscal year, it is expected that Congress will pass a continuing resolution at the end of September to keep the government running through the mid-term elections. 

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