Key House Committees
Key Senate Committees
Department of Education
- Department of Education Website
- Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education Website
- Perkins Data Explorer
- Raise the Bar: Unlocking Career Success Initiative Web page
- Blog Post: Education Secretary Cardona Prioritizes CTE in Major Policy Speech
- Blog Post: Secretary of Education Tours CTE Porgrams at Francis Tuttle Technology Center
- Department of Education FY 24 Budget Proposal Materials
Congress operates under a fiscal year that runs from October 1 – September 30. The federal budget process usually begins each February when the president submits the Administration’s budget request to Congress. This request is not binding, but it serves to outline the Administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and Congress may use it as a blueprint in crafting its own budget.
The House and Senate Budget Committees are responsible for developing the congressional budget. These committees study the president’s proposals, along with requests from other committees and Members of Congress, and put together their own “budget resolution.” The budget resolution sets a “spending ceiling” for each broad budget category. There are 17 major categories for which the Budget Committees recommend spending ceilings. CTE and workforce development programs are part of the category known as “Function 500 – Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services.” The budget resolution has no binding authority over specific program funding levels, but the higher the total funding levels in the budget resolution, the higher the likelihood of increases for programs such as Perkins, HEA, WIOA and ESSA.
Once the budget resolution has been agreed upon and passed by both chambers of Congress, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees begin the work of setting specific funding levels for individual programs, including Perkins, through appropriations bills. The 12 annual appropriations bills are designated to subcommittees within the appropriations committees. Funding decisions concerning CTE, other education programs and workforce development are made in the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
If approved at the committee level, the funding bills are then considered by the full House and Senate, with any differences between the two versions reconciled by a conference committee. Often many of the larger and more controversial appropriations bills are not completed on time, and Congress must pass a “continuing resolution” (CR) to continue program funding at current levels until a new appropriations bill can be passed.
On March 9, the Biden-Harris Administration released its budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2024, which will serve as an initial starting point for congressional negotiations around federal funding. The budget proposes a $43 million increase to the Perkins Basic State Grant, representing a 3% increase over the current FY 2023 funding level. Unfortunately, this is well below our $400 million increase request.
The budget also proposed a $200 million competitive grant program for “Career-Connected High Schools,” which would award funding to a small number of grantees for dual enrollment, industry-recognized credential attainment, career counseling and work-based learning.
Now Members of Congress will begin hearings and discussions related to putting together their own appropriations bills.
ACTE’s detailed legislative priorities and justifications for FY 2024 appropriations can be found here.
Check out these general resources to learn more about the federal funding process:
- CTE Policy Watch Blog: Federal Funding Posts
- FY 2022 Perkins State Allocations
- CRS Report: Introduction to the Federal Budget Process
- Federal Budget Timeline
- Upcoming Congressional Fiscal Policy Deadlines
- Policy Basics: Non-Defense Discretionary Programs
- Coalition for Education Funding’s FY 23 Budget Book
- House Republicans’ Pledge to Cut Appropriated Programs to FY 22 Level Would Have Severe Effect
You can also review these resources on the President’s budget proposal:
National Apprenticeship Act
The National Apprenticeship Act (NAA) is a federal law that regulates apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs.
Apprentice programs in the U.S. were largely unregulated until 1934. After passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), industry, trade unions and the National Recovery Administration cooperated to fashion various “industry codes” to govern competition, wages, working conditions and quality of products and services.
In 1937, the Congress passed the National Apprenticeship Act, also known as “the Fitzgerald Act.” The Act established a national advisory committee whose task was to research and draft regulations to establish minimum standards for apprenticeship programs. The Act was later amended to permit the United States Department of Labor to issue regulations protecting the health, safety and general welfare of apprentices, and to encourage the use of contracts in the hiring and employment of them. The National Apprenticeship Act is administered by the Employment and Training Administration in the Department of Labor, but the underlying statute has not been significantly updated in years.
A reauthorization of the bill is currently making its way through Congress. House Democrats, led by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), passed H.R. 447, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, in February of 2021 by a vote of 247-173. The same bill passed the House again in February of 2022 as an amendment to the America COMPETES Act; however, it was not considered by the Senate. This bill would increase funding for registered apprenticeship programs, while expanding opportunities to registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships. Although it passed the House in a bipartisan fashion, the majority of Republicans remain displeased with its lack of apprenticeship options outside of the more traditional registered program. ACTE endorsed the House bill and supports its passage.
A new reauthorization bill has not been introduced yet this Congress.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the primary federal legislation governing federal workforce development programs. It is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. The latest reauthorization, signed into law in 2014, emphasized an increased coordination and cohesion among federal workforce development programs, including Perkins, instead of them working independent of one another. They accomplished this by aligning the language of definitions, requiring that postsecondary CTE institutions be a local infrastructure partner, and giving states the option to do a combined state plan that meets the planning requirements for WIOA’s core programs and at least one other federal program, among others. WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Programs under WIOA are authorized through FY 2020, which means they expired starting October 1, 2020, although they remain funded through the appropriations process. Both parties in Congress have acknowledged the importance of WIOA programs and expressed desire to reauthorize the legislation. Last year, House Democrats moved forward with WIOA reauthorization (H.R. 7309), but did not have the support of House Republicans. The bill was passed along party lines in May of 2022, but was not taken up by the Senate. This bill proposed some important improvements, such as giving more flexibility for schools serving in-school and out-of-school youth and dedicated funding for one-stop center infrastructure costs; however, it needed further improvement in areas such as required CTE representation on workforce boards.
Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has stated that WIOA reauthorization will be a top priority for the committee this Congress, but a bill has not yet been introduced. To add historical context, it took Congress 14 years after the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 expired to pass WIOA in 2014.
- Aligned by Design: WIOA and CTE
- CRS Report: The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the One-Stop Delivery System
- Employment & Training Administration: WIOA Overview
- CTE Policy Watch Blog: WIOA Blogs
- H.R. 7309 Bill Text
- CLASP Report: How House-Passed WIOA Reauthorization Would Change Youth Programs (2022)
- National Skills Coalition Summary of H.R. 7309
- Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee WIOA Hearing (2022)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created under a 1996 welfare reform bill, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (P.L. 104-193). It was designed to replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.
TANF’s overall purpose is to “increase the flexibility of states” to meet four statutory goals: (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may remain in their homes; (2) reduce dependency of needy parents on government benefits through work, job preparation, and marriage; (3) reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and (4) promote the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. The 1996 welfare reform law and the creation of TANF altered the federal rules that applied to states for their cash assistance programs. It also established a broad-purpose block grant that provides funds to states to address both the effects and root causes of childhood economic disadvantage.
Most TANF policies still in effect date back to the 1996 welfare reform law. As for its funding, it was originally authorized through the end of FY 2002, with most of the legislative activity since then being short-term funding extensions. Since TANF’s inception, there has been only one long-term extension —The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005—which extended it from FY 2006 through the end of FY 2010. The DRA also made changes to TANF work rules and established a program of competitive grants mostly to community-based organizations for healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood initiatives. Since the end of FY2010, TANF has again been funded by a series of short-term extensions and is awaiting congressional reauthorization.
ACTE’s TANF Reauthorization Policy Recommendations
Higer Education Act
The Higher Education Act (HEA) was first passed in 1965 and serves as the governing federal legislation for most postsecondary education issues. This law administers the vast majority of federal student aid, addresses teacher preparation and recruitment, collects data on colleges and universities, and enforces laws around privacy and civil rights. HEA was last reauthorized in 2008, making it long overdue for an update. The 2008 reauthorization made changes in student loan discharges for disabled people, combating copyright abuse, cost transparency, and other policies.
There have been numerous attempts to reauthorize HEA, however, none have come to any fruition. Given skyrocketing national student debt, both parties have sought to make proposals that address college affordability in different ways. Most recently, Democrats introduced the College Affordability Act in 2019 which sought to significant increase the maximum Pell grant award, expand dual enrollment opportunities, incentivize free community college, crack down on low-quality for-profit schools, provide wraparound services that promote college completion, and more.
Currently, there is little to no hope of an HEA reauthorization in 2023. The need to address the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of bipartisan consensus around a reauthorization prevented HEA from being a major focus for the 117th Congress. That said, some Democratic members have introduced more piecemeal legislation that would reauthorize individual titles of HEA. For example, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) re-introduced the EDUCATORS for America Act (S. 3360 /H.R. 6205) last year to attempt to reauthorize Title II of HEA, which addresses educator quality, recruitment, and retention. You can read about two other stand-alone bills below. While still very unlikely, passage of individual bills like these seems to be the only path forward for at least a partial reauthorization given the current political landscape.
Higher Education Act 101 Video
CRS Report: The Higher Education Act: A Primer
ACTE Policy Recommendations
CTE Policy Watch Blog: HEA Blogs
Inside Higher Education Article on HEA Prospects in 2023
Short-term Pell Grants
The Pell Grant was established in the Higher Education Act of 1965 to expand access to four-year colleges to students who may not otherwise be able to afford a postsecondary education. While the program has since been expanded to other postsecondary opportunities such as associate degrees and some certificates, shorter-term programs under 600 clock hours are not covered by Pell. These programs offer in-demand certifications, skills and credentials that can lead to better wages and career prospects. Additionally, these short-term programs play a critical role in narrowing the nation’s skills gap so that employers can find workers who possess the qualifications and training needed to fill these in-demand positions.
The primary bipartisan legislation to expand Pell grant eligibility to short-term programs is the JOBS Act, which has been re-introduced and negotiated every year since 2014. While this legislation has yet to pass, it has gained broad bipartisan support through careful negotiation led by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH). ACTE has publicly supported this bill and actively advocates for its passage.
The JOBS Act did get close to passage in the previous Congress. There were attempts to include language from the JOBS Act in larger bills such as the Infrastructure & Jobs Act of 2021 and the Senate’s United States Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA) of 2021. In addition, the House passed the America COMPETES Act with language similar to the JOBS Act included in February of 2022. Unfortunately, it was not included in the final negotiated bill that passed later in the year.
The JOBS Act (S. 161/H.R. 793) was re-introduced in February of 2023 and remains the most widely supported and bipartisan legislation for short-term Pell expansion.
In January of this year, House Republican leaders introduced a competing proposal to address short-term Pell Grant expansion, called the PELL Act (H.R. 496). While very similar to the JOBS Act, it takes a different approach to ensuring program quality and does not exclude for-profit institutions from eligibility. In early March, House Democratic Education and Workforce Committee Leader Bobby Scott also released his own competing proposal, the Jobs to Compete Act. While these bills are both partisan – only supported by some House Republicans and Democrats respectively, they could encourage further bipartisan and bicameral negotiation.
- Press Release: Kaine & Braun Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help More Americans Access High-quality Job Training, Get Good-Paying Jobs (1/31/23)
- Press Release: Rep. Bill Johnson Introduces JOBS Act Legislation to Address Job Shortages (2/2/23)
- Press Release: Republican PELL Act Will Revolutionize the Workforce (1/25/23)
- Press Release: Ranking Member Scott Unveils Bill to Make Training Programs More Affordable (3/10/23)
- ACTE Short Term Pell Infographic
Throughout the country, K-12 schools have been reporting concerning levels of staff shortages across virtually every subject area, including and especially CTE. While the pandemic certainly exacerbated this issue, the root causes of the national teacher shortage are longstanding and systemic. In many schools, low teacher pay makes it difficult to recruit and retain staff; however, this is particularly challenging for CTE teachers who can often make two to three times more money working directly in the industries they teach. Further, problems such as teacher licensure, limited school resources and difficult working conditions have caused many teachers to consider leaving the classroom or may prevent prospective teachers from entering the classroom at all. While these shortages are widespread, they impact low-income, rural and communities of color at disproportionate rates.
The federal government plays a very limited role in the K-12 education system, but there is still significant opportunity to affect change. The Biden-Harris Administration heavily focused on alleviating teacher shortages this year by leveraging public-private partnerships, encouraging the registration of teacher residency programs as apprenticeships with the Department of Labor, and proposing additional funding to federal programs such as the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant, the Hawkins Centers for Excellence, and Every Student Succeeds Act Title I grants to local education agencies.
During the 117th Congress, the focus on teacher shortages was more sparse. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education held a hearing on teacher shortages, featuring experts from national think tanks and teacher unions. ACTE endorsed three teacher workforce bills: the RAISE Act, the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act, and the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act. The RAISE Act, which proposed a federal income tax credit for all public K-12 teachers, and the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act, which would extend the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program to all teacher subjects, were both introduced but were not taken up by the education committees. The Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act, which requires states without licensure compacts to recognize out-of-state professional licenses of active-duty military spouses, was passed and signed into law.
Importantly, neither Congress nor the Biden-Harris Administration have proposed many solutions for the postsecondary CTE faculty shortage. These shortages are widespread, however, there is no federally collected data to measure them. Postsecondary CTE faculty shortages can lead to program closures, which exacerbate workforce shortages and lead to decreased opportunities for learners.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has made increasing teacher pay its key focus area at the start of this Congress. In February, Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a town hall event discussing the need to raise teacher salaries prior to introducing his own bill, the Pay Teachers Act. The Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act is slated to be re-introduced in late March, while the RAISE Act is expected in May with minimal changes. These bills did not gain any Republican co-sponsors last Congress, so they will likely need to gain bipartisan support in order to have a chance at passage in the near term.
The Biden Administration is continuing its efforts from the past two years, including proposing robust funding for federal programs that support the recruitment, retention and development of educators. They have also recently released guidance on how American Rescue Plan funds can be spent on teacher shortage alleviation efforts and plan to continue providing guidelines and support for registered teacher apprenticeships.
ACTE’s detailed legislative priorities for 2023 in this area can be found here.
- Press Release: Booker Re-Introduces Legislation to Boost Teacher Compensation by up to $15,000
- Bill Text: RAISE Act of 2022
- One Pager: Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act of 2022
- Bill Text: Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act of 2022
- Fact Sheet: U.S. Department of Education Announces Partnerships
- Biden-Harris Administration Announces Actions to Strengthen Teaching Profession
- Department of Education: Addressing the Teacher Shortage with ARP Funds
- Inside Higher Education: Two-year colleges strain to hire instructors in technical fields
- ACTE Policy Watch: CTE Teacher Pay Highlighted in Senate Teacher Pay Town Hall
- ACTE Policy Watch: Bill Passed Promoting Interstate Teacher Mobility for Military Spouses