On April 18, 2023, the U.S. House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the U.S. Department of Education’s budget request for fiscal year 2024. In his testimony, Secretary Miguel Cardona continued to focus on the department’s “Raise the Bar” initiative, arguing that President Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget request raises the bar in education by promoting academic excellence and rigorous instruction, boldly improving learning conditions, and boosting global competitiveness. Secretary Cardona stated that the fiscal year 2024 budget is about a set of choices: a choice to invest in America’s children or a choice to maintain the status quo; a choice to rise up and raise the bar or a choice to break down into partisanship and divisive culture wars.
The secretary called out several specific programmatic increases such as for Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program grants, Teacher Quality Partnership, Full-Service Community Schools, Career Connected High Schools, and Title III (English language acquisition). His full written testimony can be accessed here.
While Title II-A did not receive any specific callouts, Secretary Cardona emphasized the need for strong professional development for educators during one of his answers to a question posed by Democrat Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida. Rep. Frankel signaled specific concerns with teacher shortages both in her state and nationwide and how budget cuts could further worsen the issue. Secretary Cardona stated that the fiscal year 2024 budget proposal contains specific line items to help teacher recruitment and retention, as well as new investments to strengthen the teacher pipeline.
The secretary also highlighted the importance of providing professional development for educators to ensure that they have the skills to “meet students where they are.” This was the closest Secretary Cardona came to discussing the value of Title II-A, but he still did not state the program’s name.
Many Republicans argued that the budget proposal must be scaled back due to the debt crisis happening in the country right now. One member cautioned his Democratic colleagues against their arguments against spending cuts, saying that they do not know where the potential cuts would even fall. In addition, he stated that they do not know whether the 20% cut is going to come out of the education department’s budget or somewhere else.
Democrats used their time to caution against proposed discretionary spending cuts, arguing that many important education programs would see devastating decreases under Republican proposals to cut spending to fiscal year 2022 levels. In addition, Democrats drew attention to the fact that 75% of the House Republican Caucus voted in favor of an amendment to the Parents Bill of Rights Act, proposed by Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, that would have eliminated all K-12 programs within the education department. The amendment ultimately failed, with 60 Republicans joining Democrats to vote against it.
As was expected, neither Robert Aderholt, chair of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee, or Rep. Rosa DeLauro, ranking member, provided information about a timeline for the appropriations process as much of it is dependent on the ongoing debt limit discussions happening between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and President Biden. However, the path forward for the appropriations process will become clearer as June approaches since that is when U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen indicated the government can no longer meet its financial obligations without lifting the debt ceiling.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee will hold its fiscal year 2024 budget request for the education department hearing on May 11, 2023, under new leadership in Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, and Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.