NAICU Washington Update

Secretary Cardona Testifies on FY 22 Education Budget

May 07, 2021

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified at the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearing outlining the Biden Administration’s broad parameters for education priorities in FY 2022. Secretary Cardona’s comments reflected the “skinny budget” issued by President Biden last month. The full FY 2022 budget is expected to be released in late May, which will include detailed programmatic funding levels and policy proposals.  

With only the top line funding requests for agencies, the Secretary spoke in broad strokes about the Administration’s outlook for education, highlighting only a few programs. Secretary Cardona characterized the education budget as addressing the significant inequities facing low-income students and students of color across the entire spectrum of education – early childhood to postsecondary. He emphasized that these long-existing inequities have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.  

For higher education, he mentioned the need to increase access and affordability for these students, touting the largest increase in the Pell Grant maximum ever proposed, and the proposal to include DREAMERS in all Title IV student aid programs. He also mentioned that institutional capacity investments are critical for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and all other minority-serving institutions, and that investments in TRIO and GEAR UP student support programs are long overdue to further expand the reach of these programs. 

Members of the subcommittee shared bipartisan concern about the reopening of K-12 schools and the role the Department of Education can play to facilitate a return to fully in-person learning in the fall. Bipartisan support was mentioned for Pell Grant funding, special education and Title I. 

However, Republicans voiced concern about the overall amount of funding being requested for the agency ($103 billion, a 40% increase over current funding), especially after the trillions of dollars that have been spent on pandemic relief.  Republicans also shared concerns about both the inclusion of the 1619 project in civics education and transgender athletics. 

Democrats voiced warnings about disproportionate state cuts to education funding because of the pandemic relief provided from the federal government, asking Secretary Cardona to ensure the maintenance of effort provisions are enforced as much as possible. Concerns were also shared about the direction the Department will take on Title IX campus sexual assault regulations and the growing teacher shortage. 

More hearings may take place once the full budget is submitted, which will allow subcommittee members to delve deeper into programmatic requests and policy proposals.  

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