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Senate appropriators adopt spending levels in party line vote
By Caitlin Emma, Politico
09/12/2019 10:01 AM EDT
Senate GOP appropriators this morning advanced their funding levels for fiscal 2020 spending bills along partisan lines, setting up what could be difficult negotiations with the Democratic-led House as a deadline looms at the end of the month for Congress to act or face a shutdown.
The levels for each Senate subcommittee, disclosed for the first time, are the culmination of 11th-hour haggling over controversial policy language, funding for domestic programs and President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Spending leaders adopted the caps, known as 302(b) allocations, in a 16-15 vote in which every Republican senator backed the proposed spending levels and every Democratic senator opposed them. The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., proposed an alternative plan including a boost for domestic spending that was rejected.
“As appropriators, we should all want to extend that bipartisan success, not relapse into the partisan bickering that left us lurching from crisis to crisis,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said.
“Therefore, where we are able to advance appropriations bills consistent with the budget agreement, we will do so. Where we cannot, we will not. It’s that simple. The time for haggling over the terms of the budget agreement has passed. The time to get our work done is upon us, and it is running short.”
Appropriators have had more than five weeks to finalize the numbers since the two-year budget deal, H.R. 3877 (116), was enacted.
The full set of Senate spending levels, including funding for the Overseas Contingency Operations, the 2020 census and CHIMPs:
— Labor-HHS-Education: $187.7 billion
The allocations were still in flux as of Tuesday night after spending negotiations went off the rails earlier this week. Republican appropriators have accused Democrats of violating an agreement to avoid so-called poison pills in spending bills, while Democrats have argued that the GOP‘s plan to fund Trump’s wall shortchanges the bulk of non-defense programs.
Leahy would have taken $3.6 billion from the Homeland Security budget for a border wall and instead applied it to the Labor-HHS-Education bill. His proposal was rejected in a 15-16 vote, again along party lines.
Leahy noted that Shelby‘s subcommittee funding limits would only provide a 1 percent increase above fiscal 2019 enacted levels for the Labor-HHS-Education measure, which he deemed “unacceptable.“
“We cannot and should not shortchange it,” Leahy said. “With the extra money in my allocation provided to Labor-HHS, we can invest in important health, education and child care programs that mean so much to working families.“
9/9/19- ‘All public schools in New Jersey are now offering students access to an arts education, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.’
9/10/19- ‘An attorney representing Maryland’s four historically black colleges urged lawmakers Tuesday to settle a long-running lawsuit over disparities in programs for $577 million “over a reasonable period of time.’
9/9/19- ‘Gov. Ron DeSantis signed new legislation this year that will now require school districts to offer financial literacy courses as electives.’
9/9/19- ‘The latest education assessment tests show mixed results for New Hampshire students.’
Research and Analysis
State testing systems are in transition. Buffeted by anti-testing sentiment on the left and right, budget battles, and renewed debates over the role that testing plays, the recent, unprecedented push for states to collaborate on high-quality, standards-aligned assessments has given way to an increasingly fragmented marketplace. A new report from FutureEd Senior Fellow Lynn Olson examines the new testing landscape under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).