Legislative Updates

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5/22 Update

Last Friday, May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill passed 208-199 on a largely party line vote, with the majority of Democratic lawmakers supporting the bill. While the HEROES Act passed in the House, it will act as a starting point for negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate and likely many changes will be made before a final bill is passed into law. As we mentioned last week, we do not expect a final bill to pass until June or July.

The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion bill that includes a $90 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) through the U.S. Department of Education, which awards grants to governors to support educational needs. While we are disappointed that the bill did not include the $1 billion appropriation for adult education, adult education is an eligible use of funds through the SFSF. And in allowing this use of funds, the bill calls out adult education needs and recognizes the additional cost of moving programs to virtual instruction. The HEROES Act is not a final COVID-19 relief bill, and we must leverage the opportunity ahead to press for additional funding for adult education to be included in relief packages in the future.

Also, on Friday, May 15, the House passed a measure to allow voting by proxy and the ability to conduct mark ups and hearing remotely. We have been told that the regular House appropriations process continues to move forward, and that the chamber wants to do mark ups in June – although this timeline is not set in stone. The regular Senate appropriations process is behind the House, and we are now hearing that the body is unlikely to move any appropriations bills until after July 4th.

If you have not already done so, we urge you to reach out to your Members of Congress to advocate for $1 billion in adult education funding to be included in the next COVID-19 relief bill.

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A letter from Senator Debbie Stabenow

Dear Bob,

Thank you for contacting me about protecting Michigan workers and their families from the coronavirus pandemic and its widespread economic damage. I strongly agree we must do everything we can to protect people from this deadly virus and address the widespread damage to our economy.

I share your support for increasing federal support for federal workforce development and adult education programs in response to the coronavirus pandemic. That is why I’ve called on my colleagues to support increasing funding for programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is the primary federal law supporting workforce development and adult education programs, and the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. You can count on my continued support for workforce and adult education programs as Congress continues to address the coronavirus pandemic and its widespread damage to Michigan’s economy.

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A letter from Senator Senator Bob Casey

Dear Ms. Weinberger:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about adult education in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

I believe that anyone with the drive, fortitude and desire to pursue the opportunities afforded by postsecondary education should be able to realize that dream, regardless of their personal financial situation. Increasingly, a postsecondary education is required to obtain jobs that meet middle-class economic needs. However, data from the U.S. Census shows that 14 percent of adults over the age of 25 have less than a high school diploma.

Read The Full Letter

5/15 Update

House Democrats introduced their version of the next COVID-19 relief package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act on Tuesday, May 12. The House is voting on passage of this bill today. While we expect the HEROES Act to pass the Democratic-controlled House, it will act as a starting point for negotiations with the Senate and likely many changes will be made before a final bill is passed into law. We do not expect a final bill to pass until June or July.

The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion bill that includes a $90 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) through the U.S. Department of Education, which awards grants to governors to support educational needs. While we are disappointed that the bill did not include the $1 billion appropriation for adult education, adult education is an eligible use of funds through the SFSF. And in allowing this use of funds, the bill calls out adult education needs and recognizes the additional cost of moving programs to virtual instruction. 

The HEROES Act is not a final COVID-19 relief bill, and we must leverage the opportunity ahead to press for additional funding for adult education to be included in relief packages in the future.

In terms of the regular appropriations process, we are hearing that the Senate aims to mark up most of its fiscal year 2021 bills in June. The House could start marking up bills shortly as well, pending a vote allowing for virtual markups. As you know, appropriations timelines typically get delayed. We will keep you updated as we learn more on this front. Please note that the final appropriations bills will likely not be determined until after the election.

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5/8 Update

The Senate returned to Washington, D.C. earlier this week and the House of Representatives plans to return to the capitol the week of May 11. Legislators in both bodies of Congress are working to put together the next set of COVID-19 relief packages. COABE is working closely with policymakers to advocate for additional funding and flexibilities for adult education to be included in one of the next packages. Thank you for reaching out to your Members of Congress to advocate for $1 billion in funding for adult education, this advocacy is critical as Congress works to draft the next package.

As you may have seen, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced a bill called the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act. The bill includes $1 billion in additional funding for adult education programs to, among other things, move education and services online. COABE worked closely with the Rep. Scott staff to advocate for this funding inclusion. The adult education funding in the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act is a great first step and will be used in negotiations with appropriators and leadership in both the House and Senate as they work to put together a final package.

Friday, 5/1 Update

Last week the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act was signed into law. The package provides $484 billion to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and for Federal, State and local COVID-19 testing. At the same time, policymakers on Capitol Hill are working on a broader COVID-19 relief package, referred to as CARES 2, that could include education provisions. We are working with legislators to advocate for additional funding and flexibilities for adult education to be included in the broader relief package.

The Senate is set to return to work in Washington, D.C. on Monday, May 4. The House of Representatives has announced plans to return to the capitol the week of May 11 and will continue working remotely in the meantime.

As we reported last week and separate from the COVID-19 relief efforts, while the regular appropriations process is underway, we expect Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to extend government funding before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Likely, final appropriations bills will not pass until after the November election.

Friday, 4/24 Update

As of yesterday, Members of Congress passed an interim stimulus package to follow the CARES Act which was signed into law last month. The new legislation provides $484 billion to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and for Federal, State and local COVID-19 testing. We expect President Trump to sign the bill into law shortly. At the same time, policymakers on Capitol Hill are working on a broader COVID-19 relief package that could include education provisions. We are working with legislators to advocate for additional funding and flexibilities for adult education to be included in the broader relief package.

As we reported last week and separate from the COVID-19 relief efforts, we have heard that House appropriations subcommittees have been given their 302(b) allocations for the fiscal year 2021 spending bills. 302(b) allocations set individual funding limits for each of the 12 appropriations bills. A 302(b) is just an overall funding limitation on how much total spending a bill can include, and does not include any specific programmatic funding levels. These funding levels are not yet public information and will likely not be known until Congress begins appropriations markups sometime in May or June. In terms of process, the Senate is behind the House. While the regular appropriations process is underway, we expect Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to extend government funding before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Likely, final appropriations bills will not pass until after the November election.

On March 27, 2020, OCTAE released the first set of Frequently Asked Questions (OCTAE Program Memorandum 20-3) to provide guidance and assistance to States and local programs with continuity of operations in a COVID-19 environment.  OCTAE is now releasing OCTAE Program Memorandum 20-4, which we hope responds to additional questions States may have related to performance and State assessment policies.  Please continue to send questions to the AskAEFLA@ed.gov mailbox and we will try to respond as quickly as possible.

Please also visit our LINCS resource page to learn about COVID-19 support for adult educators and the U.S. Department of Education’s COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel, which the Department will continue to update. 

4/17 Update

Members of Congress are currently working on a package referred to as “CARES 2.0” to follow the CARES Act which was signed into law on March 27. At the same time, policymakers on Capitol Hill are working on a broad COVID-19 relief package that could include education provisions. We are working with legislators to advocate for additional funding and flexibilities for adult education to be included in the broader relief package.

As you know, Members of Congress are currently working from home, and just this week the House and Senate each announced that neither chamber will meet in-person before May 4 (at the earliest). Through a procedure called unanimous consent, it is possible for the House and Senate to pass bills remotely – although this is difficult to do. We are hearing that the House is currently looking into how to hold hearings and other official meetings remotely.

Outside of the COVID-19 relief efforts, we have heard that House appropriations subcommittees have been given their 302(b) allocations for the fiscal year 2021 spending bills. As a reminder, 302(b) allocations set individual funding limits for each of the 12 appropriations bills. A 302(b) is just an overall funding limitation on how much total spending a bill can include, and does not include any specific programmatic funding levels. These funding levels are not yet public information and will likely not be known until Congress begins appropriations markups sometime in May or June. In terms of process, the Senate is behind the House. While the regular appropriations process is underway, we expect Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to extend government funding before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Likely, final appropriations bills will not pass until after the November election.

4/10 Update

Congress has passed, and the President has signed three COVID-19 relief packages into law. Even though Members of Congress and their staff are working from home for the time being, work on a fourth COVID-19 bill has already begun. The size and scope of the fourth relief package is constantly changing. Some legislators are calling for an extension of the most recent package – the CARES Act, and others are calling for a broad-scoping stimulus package. We are working with legislators on Capitol Hill to advocate for additional funding and flexibilities for adult education to be included either in the next bill or in subsequent bills. Using Ignite, please send the letter from COABE to your Members of Congress advocating for $1 billion in supplemental funding and program requirement flexibilities.

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