Federal Advocacy and Weekly Policy Update

Federal Advocacy and Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

Supreme Court Upholds DACA, Next Steps are Unclear

The Supreme Court ruled (5-4) that the procedure used by the Trump Administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was “arbitrary and capricious.” Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the four liberal members of the Court to rule that the process by which the Trump Administration moved to terminate the program was illegal. The decision allows the protections enacted by the previous administration to stay intact for the near term, protecting many K-12 students, college students, as well as faculty and staff for the immediate future. However, while the Court ruled that the process used by the Trump Administration to end the program was wrong, they did not rule on the legality of the program. As a result, the Trump Administration may pursue other options to terminate the program, though those options are likely to be much more time consuming.

Congressional Appropriations Process Inches Forward

The House Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the budget for the Department of Education, plans to mark up the budget on July 7 beginning at 5pm.  In the Senate, last week’s ambition about an accelerated timeline for considering their own bills has already hit a snag; a dispute between Senate Democrats and Republicans over whether Senate Democrats will have the ability to offer amendments to address some of their priorities around police reform and COVID-19. NSBA’s advocacy team is working to ensure the fiscal year 2021 budget includes significant funding for education priorities.

House Education Committee Holds Hearing to Examine the Pandemic’s Impact

This week, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing about the “Budget Cuts and Lost Learning: Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Public Education.”  Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) highlighted the work of the House in passing the HEROES Act last month that would provide nearly $1 trillion to address budget shortfalls and avert cuts in education with $60 billion in direct K-12 funding.  He said that “this is a pivotal moment in our fight for equity in education”, and “we cannot put the safety of our students, teachers, and staff at risk.  We must provide the resources they need.”  Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said that since some schools have not yet spent the relief funding provided through the CARES Act, it would be premature to provide additional funding before Congress has had an opportunity to evaluate the use of funds already disbursed.  She went on to remind the committee that more spending does not guarantee better outcomes. 

Looking ahead, the House Education Committee has scheduled an additional hearing next week focused on widening racial inequities due to COVID-19 emergency, titled “Inequities Exposed: How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health, and the Workforce“.  Witnesses have not been announced. The livestream will occur on Monday, June 22 at noon ET and the livestream can be found here.

Administration Update

Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Releases Analysis of Challenges

The Administration’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee published a report titled “Top Challenges Facing Federal Agencies: COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Response Efforts.” The analysis was reported by the Offices of Inspector Generals (OIGs) from 37 agencies across the government.  The purpose of the report is to provide “insight into the top management challenges facing federal agencies that received pandemic-related funding.”  Common themes reflected across agencies included financial management of CARES Act and other funds, grant management, information technology security and management, and protecting health and safety while maintaining effective operations.  Additional challenges named by OIGs included the “large amount of funds appropriated under the CARES Act and related legislation, the need to distribute aid rapidly under emergency conditions, and the need to maintain agency operations as factors that impact these challenges.”

Department of Education Publishes Discretionary Grant Opportunity to Improve IDEA 

Parts B and C Data

The Department of Education published a discretionary grant program notice for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services: “Technical Assistance on State Data Collection – National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to College, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B and Part C Fiscal Data” –The Technical Assistance on State Data Collection seeks to improve the capacity of states to meet IDEA data collection and reporting requirements, authorized under IDEA. This priority will establish a Fiscal Data Center, which will provide states with technical assistance to help meet fiscal data collection and reporting obligations under IDEA. The estimated available funds for this program total $3,975,000 in years 1 and 2, $4,425,000 in years 3 and 4, and $4,200,000 in year 5. Applications are due by July 31, 2020, and further information is available here.

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