Legislative Update: Budget Reconciliation and Demand for Broadband Funding


Legislative Update: Budget Reconciliation and Demand for Broadband Funding

This week, the House adopted a budget resolution that allows for progression on the budget reconciliation process. Read below to learn more about the implications and timeline, as well as an update on national demand for broadband funding, a grant program for displaced workers and newly approved stimulus funding plans.
House Adopts Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Resolution
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Original post can be found here
On Tuesday, the House adopted the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget resolution, by a 220-212 party-line vote. The resolution is significant because it officially starts the reconciliation process, paving the way for the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan to be passed by a simple majority. The Senate already adopted the budget resolution on a party-line vote earlier this month.
The House vote also included the rule for floor debate governing a separate voting rights bill and eventually the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, for which Democratic leaders have set a tentative vote date of September 27.
Now that the reconciliation rules have been adopted in both chambers through the budget resolution, committees can begin officially writing their respective pieces of the larger $3.5 trillion package. For example, the education committees have been allocated over $700 billion to fund initiatives under their jurisdiction, ranging from Pre-K programs to free college, and including any workforce development or CTE investments.  
Within the resolution, there is a deadline of September 15 to have bills done on the committee level, so they can be combined into one large proposal for passage on the floor of each chamber. However, with many moving parts and disagreements even among Democrats it seems somewhat unlikely that the reconciliation bill will be done by the prescribed deadline and may go later into the fall.
There are a handful of moderate Senate Democrats, namely Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who have publicly expressed concern over the price tag of the reconciliation bill. With a 50-50 tie in the Senate, it is critical that all Democrats are on board to ensure its passage. This means that there will likely be longer negotiations that may pare down the bill before it is brought to a vote.
FCC Announces Over $5 Billion in Funding Requests for Emergency Connectivity Fund
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has received $5.137 billion in requests to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections, including schools and libraries in both rural and urban communities, as part of the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The first filing window closed on August 13, and resulted in applications from all 50 states, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FCC will open a second application filing window from September 28 to October 13 in light of the outstanding demand. A state-by-state breakdown of funding requests can be found here
On Wednesday Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) highlighted this widespread demand in a press release that called for passing of the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, which was introduced in July.  
DOL Announces Grants for Workers Displaced by the Pandemic
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the availability of an increased $90 million of funding grants for employment opportunities for displaced workers, historically marginalized communities or groups and those unemployed for an extended period of time or who have exhausted unemployment insurance or other pandemic unemployment insurance programs. This means that funding for Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery (CAREER) National Dislocated Worker Grants, announced in June, is more than doubled. Applications for CAREER National Dislocated Worker Grants are open through August 31 and can be used for one of the following activities: 

  • Delivering comprehensive workforce services, including career, training and supporting services to help participants gain employment; or
  • Purchasing, building or expanding virtual technology platforms, software systems or services for job search, career guidance, training or other allowable activities. 

ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans
ED announced the approval of additional America Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The newly approved states and funding levels include: 

Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy