NAICU Washington Update

Congress Avoids Shutdown

November 21, 2019

Looking to avoid another government shutdown, President Trump signed a continuing resolution (CR) sent to him by Congress that will keep the government running until December 20.  This new deadline is a week longer than the House was scheduled to be in session this year, but it gives House and Senate appropriators four more weeks to work out their differences on the final FY 2020 spending bills.
What was expected to be a relatively smooth year for the appropriations process has turned into a bumpy road of disagreements over how to divvy up the spending total, what constitutes political policy riders, and how to manage border wall funding. The process started this summer with generous increases for student aid in the House bill, then bipartisan agreement on two-year spending caps. However, when the Senate could not markup its education funding bill in early September because of a low allocation, bipartisan negotiations stalled.
While Congress did not complete FY 2020 spending bills by the November 21 deadline established by the first CR, that deadline forced appropriators and Congressional leadership into serious talks about a path forward. If the December holiday break is not enough pressure for the leadership to come to an agreement on final spending levels, the period of time covered by a future CR may last until February or March, to accommodate possible impeachment proceedings in the Senate.
Technically, student aid funding does not go out to students until July 1, but uncertainty about funding levels into February or March makes it difficult for financial aid administrators to accurately make awards for the 2020-2021 academic year. The worst case scenario would be for Congress to enact a year-long CR, which would fund the student aid programs at current levels, and forgo the generous increases proposed in the House bill this summer.

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