Legislative Update: Senate HELP Committee Confirmation Vote and Reconciliation Process


Legislative Update: Senate HELP Committee Confirmation Vote and Reconciliation Process

This week, the confirmation process for Dr. Miguel Cardona as U.S. Secretary of Education moved forward. Read below to learn more about next steps, the progression of the budget reconciliation process, apprenticeship reauthorization and an Executive Order on racial equity. 
Senate Committee Confirms Dr. Miguel Cardona
Yesterday, The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) voted 17-5  to confirm Dr. Miguel Cardona as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. The vote followed last week’s HELP Committee hearing on Dr. Cardona’s nomination. Confirmation of Dr. Cardona was supported by both HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC). Next, Dr. Cardona’s nomination will be voted on by the full Senate. 
House Committee Advances its Piece of Relief Bill
Written by Michael Matthews, Government Relations Manager, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). Full post can be found here
Early Wednesday morning, the House Education and Labor Committee voted 27-21 to approve a $357.9 billion draft proposal for inclusion in the COVID-19 relief package that’s slated to move through Congress under the Fiscal Year 2021 budget reconciliation process. The process is important because it is a maneuver used to allow the legislation to pass the Senate by a simple majority, instead of the normally required 60-vote threshold.
The bill directly appropriates a total of $170.1 billion for education programs within the U.S. Department of Education. Of the $170.1 billion, $169.8 billion is for the education emergency relief fund. Unlike the two previously enacted bills, there is no separate fund for governors to administer. Below is a further breakdown of funds.

  • $128.6 billion for K-12 education – The bill provides the funding under the same terms as previously for the Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, with 90% of the funding going to local educational associations (LEAs). 
  • $39.6 billion for higher education – The bill provides 99% of the funding ($39.2 billion) for public and private non-profit institutions of higher education, which must use at least 50% of their funding on emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • Other education-related provisions
    • $1 billion for Head Start
    • $1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service
    • $23.975 billion for childcare stabilization funding for providers
    • $15.0 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
    • $200 million for Institute of Museum and Library Services  

To learn more, below are links to various documents related to the legislation:

The committee is one of several that has begun considering portions of the COVID-19 relief package within their committee’s jurisdiction. Committees must submit their legislation to the House Budget Committee by February 16. The total package, which is expected to cost $1.9 trillion, is moving under the budget reconciliation instructions included in the FY2021 budget resolution (S Con Res 5) the House and Senate adopted last week.
House Passes National Apprenticeship Act 
At the end of last week the House passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447), which was introduced by the House Committee on Education and Labor leadership at the end of January. The bill would invest over $3.5 billion to expand  registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships over five years and create close to 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities. Additional information about the bill is available, including a fact sheet, section-by-section summary and full bill text. Advance CTE is pleased to support the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. 
Executive Order Advances Racial Equity 
Following President Joe Biden’s inauguration there were numerous Executive Orders signed into law. One of these orders was on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The order directs “that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” The order outlines an interagency process led by the Domestic Policy Council, including: 

  • The Office of Management and Budget identifying methods to assess equity; 
  • Conducting an equity assessment in federal agencies; 
  • Allocating federal resources to advance fairness and opportunity; 
  • Promoting equitable delivery of government benefits and equitable opportunities; 
  • Engaging with members of underserved communities; and
  • Establishing an equitable data working group. 

President Biden also revoked former President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13950 on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which did not allow federal contractors or subcontractors to provide workplace diversity training and programs. 
Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy