By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
The appropriations process to fund the federal government for the following fiscal year began with the White House’s submission of a $4 trillion federal budget proposal in February, outlining its budget priorities for FY2021. The Republican-controlled Senate will use the President’s budget proposal as a roadmap unless their priorities are significantly unaligned. The House of Representatives already had agreed to its top-line numbers for FY2020 and 2021 last year; therefore, it was able to get right to the business of appropriations earlier this summer for each of the 15 cabinet-level agencies, a process it completed by July 31. It is now up to the Senate to hold appropriations hearings and pass an appropriations bill before September 30 when the fiscal year ends.
Considering the current impasse over funding another COVID relief bill and the U.S. Postal Service in the midst of election season, there is much uncertainty over how Congress will fund the government after September 30. Upon its return to Washington, the Senate will have approximately three weeks to pass 12 appropriations bills, which will then require reconciliation with the House bill before it goes to President Trump for his signature before adjourning for the month of October to campaign. For what it’s worth, the U.S. Congress has not passed a budget under regular order since the Clinton administration; therefore Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government at FY20 levels until after the election.
Nonetheless, the President’s budget proposal and the House Appropriations bill funding the Departments of Labor and Education present a peek of what spending will look like on workforce and education programs of interest to PHCC in FY2021. The chart below shows that, between the Trump administration and the House of Representatives, only marginal increases are being proposed, with the White House proposal slightly favoring spending on registered apprenticeship and Perkins CTE, while the House is doing likewise for Pell grants and Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act (WIOA) programs.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to hold several “mark-ups” or hearings on appropriations bills originating in the Senate in September, and its proposals for workforce spending are not expected to deviate too much from what is proposed by the White House and Congress. However, an additional $2.5 billion is being proposed for workforce and apprenticeship in the next COVID relief bill (should it pass), which would help unemployed Americans find new work in the building trades. PHCC will not stop pushing for robust funding for job training and will keep you posted on developments.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association