House Passes Appropriations Bill and Holds Hearing on Higher Education


House Passes Appropriations Bill and Holds Hearing on Higher Education

This week, the House of Representatives passed a Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations bill. Read below to learn more about this appropriations update, the latest House hearing on higher education and the new accreditation handbook issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
FY2020 Appropriations Bill Passes in the House

On June 19, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20)  $1 trillion minibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2740, that included funding for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Ed) on a 226-203 vote. Bundled into this minibus were the funding bills for Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water. The bill included close to $1.3 billion for CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants- leading to a total increase of $47 million over the amount provided by Congress for FY19.
It is important to note that the final House bill is unlikely to pass into law. The Senate Appropriations Committee has still not yet released their FY20 funding bill for Labor-HHS-Ed. In addition, Congress has not yet agreed on the overall levels of spending for defense and non-defense discretionary spending, which must happen before final allocations for the FY20 appropriations bills can be determined. Congressional leadership and administration officials met this week to attempt and come to an agreement, however, talks are ongoing.
Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.
House Holds Hearing on Pathways to a College Degree

The House Committee on Education & Labor held a hearing in preparation for Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization on “Innovation to Improve Equity: Exploring High-Quality Pathways to a College Degree.” In their opening remarks, both Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) both discussed how the traditional higher education landscape has changed, and innovative postsecondary practices must be implemented to meet the needs of each and every learner.
The panel of witnesses included:

  • Judith Marwick, Provost, William Rainey Harper College
  • Tomikia LeGrande, Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Charla Long, Executive Director, Competency-Based Network
  • Sameer Gadkaree, Senior Program Officer, Joyce Foundation

The witnesses spoke about a variety of topics, including competency-based education, dual enrollment, student support services, and the persistent equity gaps in higher education.
You can watch the full hearing here and read statements from Congressman Scott and the witnesses here.
U.S. Department of Education Issues New Accreditation Handbook
On June 20, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released a revised Accreditation Handbook to be referred to by college accrediting agencies. The guidelines are not required, but are how accreditors will be evaluated by the U.S. Department of Education. Secretary DeVos shared the intention to streamline requirements with this handbook- this new version is 28 pages, compared to the last one that was issued in 2012 and was 88 pages. One of the new additions to the handbook is a site visit to the accreditor by a department staff member.
Meredith Hills, Policy Associate