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Previewing the 118th Congress: What does it mean for afterschool?

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Previewing the 118th Congress: What does it mean for afterschool?

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, we can also say farewell to the 117th Congress. The new Congress marks a return to ‘divided government’ with the White House and Senate being led by Democrats and the House of Representatives under the control of the Republican Party. What might the 118th Congress mean for afterschool and summer learning programs and the children and parents they support?

New leadership

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected Speaker of the House Representatives on the fifteenth ballot following a week of failed attempts to elect a Speaker. In order to achieve the votes necessary to elect a speaker during the drawn out process, Speaker McCarthy and his supporters negotiated a compromise with a group of 20 conservative Republican members that withheld their support. The holdouts wanted assurances that the new Speaker would pursue legislation reflective of the new majority’s “values” and appointments to various committees, among other demands. The compromise brings changes to the House Rules and procedures designed to cut federal spending and distribute power from the Speaker’s office to rank and file members of the House. The package of changes will be debated the week of January.

The new Congress will bring new leadership for several key committees that have jurisdiction over education policy and education spending. As a result of the delay in electing a Speaker, House Committee leadership is still undecided, however the Education and the Workforce Committee could be helmed by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who was the panel’s Ranking Member in the 117th. Previous Chair Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) will stay on as Ranking Member. House Appropriations Committee leadership changed as well, with new Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas) to lead the full committee with Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). (The official appointments will come later this month and could change; Rep. Foxx is facing a challenger.)

On the Senate side, new leadership on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) will be Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-La.). With regard to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will lead with Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine). This will be the first time women have served as chairs and ranking members of both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.

New members in the House and Senate

As a result of the election last November, seven new Senators (two Democrats and five Republicans) will join the Senate, while 77 new Representatives (42 Republicans and 35 Democrats) will serve in the House during the 118th Congress. Several of the new members have connections to out-of-school time. Among the newly elected Senators:

  • Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) has been supportive of providing children access to high-quality educational options, and has served as a volunteer with the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Alabama
  • Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) worked with out-of-school youth as an AmeriCorps member in the mid-1990’s before expanding youth and art programs as mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, in the mid-2000’s
  • Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) was a member of the House Afterschool Caucus when he served in that chamber, supporting increased funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers 

And in the House of Representatives, new members with connections to out of school time include:

  • Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) has been a supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, including its summer learning program
  • Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio), who will continue to represent Ohio’s 11th District after being first elected in a special election to replace Marcia Fudge, has introduced a bill to expand student access to afterschool meals
  • Rep. Adam Gray (D-Calif.) will represent California’s 13th District after winning his race against John Duarte. Gray has helped secure education funding in the following areas: high-skilled job training, building an Ag Tech Building at Merced College while promoting enrollment and attendance, Boys & Girls Club afterschool programs, and Kindergarten transitional programs for all four-year-olds
  • Rep. Rudy Yakym (R-Ind.) served previously as Board Chair of the Boys & Girls Club of St. Joe County, Indiana

New challenges within the appropriations process

Late in December, the House and Senate succeeded in passing  an FY 2023 omnibus spending bill which funded the federal government through September 30, 2023. The FY 2024 appropriations process is expected to begin in February when the president releases the administration’s new budget proposal.   Congress will follow soon after with Appropriations Committee hearings and markups of their spending bills in late spring and summer. As has been the case the last several years, disagreement around spending decisions is likely to continue, centering around big-picture questions about defense and non-defense spending levels, and the overall amount of government spending in general. The negotiated compromise that resulted in Speaker McCarthy’s election will also mean changes and potentially challenges to the budget and appropriations process.

New and returning Members of Congress must hear about the importance of afterschool, summer learning and out of school time early and often this year. Voices from the field will be critical to educating the new Congress on the many valuable outcomes of local afterschool and summer learning programs. Use our action center to share your thoughts on the appropriations process and its impact on afterschool with your members of Congress to ensure that funds are available to support young people in your community.    

New legislative priorities

It is difficult to predict exactly which policy issues will come to the forefront in the new Congress, but many in Washington expect a number of education policy issues to be addressed, including significantly increased oversight of the use of American Rescue Plan Act education funds, particularly from House members. In addition, both Democrats and Republicans want to take on thorny student loan and higher education issues. Democrats will likely look to increase funding for federal student loan and grant programs, while Republicans could focus on expanding career and technical education, apprenticeships, and vocational education opportunities. Some aspects of both approaches, including efforts to streamline the student loan system, have bipartisan support. It is possible we will again see some movement on reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and perhaps elements of the Higher Education Act (HEA). We will continue to look for opportunities to strengthen existing support, or in some cases build new support, for local afterschool and summer learning programs and the school and community partnerships that sustain them.

We look forward to working with all of you in 2023 to advance federal policies that support local afterschool and summer learning programs and their work to provide children, youth, and families with quality learning opportunities. 

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Roundup of afterschool in State Budgets Part 2

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BY: Erik Peterson      06/27/22

Jodi Grant testifies at House hearing in support of afterschool programs

This morning, Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant testified at a hearing of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS-E) Appropriations Subcommittee in favor of increased funding for Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/26/22