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From Capitol to Campus

The congressional budget resolution, which determines how much funding will be available for Congressional appropriators to divvy up into individual federally funded programs, was unveiled on May 19.

It proposes a 1 percent above inflation increase for domestic discretionary spending and rejects a reconciliation process through which mandatory programs are altered to achieve lower spending levels (such as cuts to student loan programs).

For education and training programs, the budget resolution lays out an $8.4 billion increase for the next fiscal year, plus House and Senate “reserve funds” should additional increases be considered once the Congress completes the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The reauthorization is reportedly nearing completion, though key items remain unsettled.

The budget resolution rejects some key Bush Administration education proposals, including eliminating programs like the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) Grants that encourage states to establish need-based postsecondary student grant programs.

Overall, the congressional budget resolution is good news for education. The next step in the law-making process is for Congress to move individual appropriations bills, including the one containing education funding.

Passage of appropriations bills through the House and Senate—itself a long shot—won’t bring closure to the legislative process, however, since compromises between the House and Senate probably won't be worked out until after the November election.

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