September 26, 2023
In the ultimate game of ‘will they or won’t they’, we once again find ourselves with a Congress that is unable to reliably complete its only constitutionally required
task: funding the government. The Federal fiscal year 2024 (FY24) runs from October 1, 2023, through September 30, 2024, and represents—largely –federal dollars that will be in schools for the 2024-25 school year. The two congressional chambers—House and Senate—are in very different places in terms of overall process and overall funding levels when it comes to FY24.
Generally speaking, House Democrats are aligned with the Senate and White House in avoiding a shutdown, while House Republicans work through internal politics about what can or should be done about funding levels, overall cuts, and myriad other policy proposals. An initial House proposal that included a short-term continuing resolution (CR) was tanked before it could even get to the floor. (Though it should be noted that was likely as far as it would have gotten, as it included non-starters for the Senate).
If we want to get really into the weeds, here’s a quick recap of this week: House Republicans have postponed a vote on their proposed continuing resolution (CR) that would have extended government funding for one month but with an 8% cut to non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding except for veterans’ health care; the bill did not have enough support to pass since all Democrats would oppose it and as well as some Republicans who wanted deeper spending cuts. The conservative House Freedom Caucus and the more moderate Main Street
Caucus both supported the bill. Reportedly, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is trying to find an option that will garner sufficient support to pass, and the conservative House Republican Study Committee wants an amendment that would cut funding even further, down to the FY 2022 levels. All eyes remain on the House.
Here's what YOU can do: Weigh in with your delegation. We don’t have specific funding levels to recommend; the aim here is to create enough pressure/cover to
give the House a path forward on some sort of funding bill and to avoid a shut down:
AESA opposes a federal shutdown. Congress must reach an agreement on at least a short-term CR to buy themselves more time.
Any funding deal must maintain parity between defense and non-defense spending. There is a keen interest (particularly among some House Republicans) to adopt deep cuts to non-defense discretionary funding (which includes education). AESA opposes disproportionate cuts and urges Congress to use a scalpel as it determines where to cut funding.
Negotiations for the final FY24 appropriations package should rely on the Senate-passed bills as the starting point. AESA rejects the proposal advanced by the House LHHS appropriations subcommittee (this proposal included an 80% cut to Title I).
Education funding matters and education cuts do not heal. It is imperative Congress act to avoid a shutdown and to ensure continued funding that supports critical programs, including Title I and IDEA.
If there is a shutdown, the most immediate impact will be felt by any ESA or LEA running a Head Start or Impact Aid program. If this is your region, make sure your delegation knows what it would mean to see that money stop: what programs would end, how many students would be disrupted, and what would the spillover mean to the broader LEAs in your region?
NOTE: Educators' Call To Action Conference
We are in the process of making alternative plans for those who might not be able to make their Hill visits during the Educator Call To Action conference. According to Noelle Ellerson Ng, AESA Government Relations Director, if there is a government shutdown, some congressional offices will remain open while others will be closed. We will certainly keep you posted as we get closer to the conference.