Congress is getting ready to leave town for a long August recess, but not before holding two hearings—one in the House and one in the Senate—that are of significance to adult education supporters.
First, the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee is going to mark up a FY 2014 appropriations bill this Thursday morning. (When and whether this bill ever gets to the floor is another matter.) This will be an interesting hearing, to say the least. The budget adopted by the House majority establishes a $121.8 billion top-line discretionary spending level for their Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, which is $42.5 billion less than the Senate’s. (See Table 2, in this CPBB report.) That’s a big difference—almost 26% less than the Senate bill—and the widest disparity, by the way, between any of the subcommittee discretionary allocations by far.
Most observers have been saying that the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee will have to cut funding in their bill by about 20% from FY 2013 levels in order to stay under the budget allocation they were handed. That would be, I believe, an unprecedented reduction. That doesn’t mean, though, that each program covered by this bill (and adult education is one of them) will all be cut across-the-board by 20%, or receive 26% less than what was appropriated in the Senate bill—some could be cut more, some less—as long as the entire bill stays under that $121.8 billion cap.
A lot of education advocates I know have been urging House Reublican to produce a bill, not because they expect to like what they’ll see in it, but because at least they’ll see it–that is, they’ll finally be able to see what programs House Republican propose to cut—and by how much— in light of the budget they produced last spring. Maybe a lot of the hits will come at the expense of Obamacare, but even so, I don’t see how you get to $121.8 billion without substantial cuts to a lot of education programs. Like I said, this bill, and the hearing on Thursday, should be interesting.
Secondly, it looks like there is going to be further action on WIA in the Senate before the break. I’ll post details on this once they become publicly available.
UPDATE 7/24: No House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing after all: “Due to scheduling uncertainties surrounding the House consideration of the Defense bill and the State and Foreign Operations full committee mark-up, the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee mark-up scheduled forThursday morning at 9:00 am has been postponed.”