Hurdles Cleared. Both the House and Senate omnibus education funding bills passed committees today, with the House bill clearing the House Tax Committee and the Senate bill cleared the Senate E-12 Funding Division. The Senate bill will be in the full Senate Finance Committee tomorrow, where it will meet funding bills from the other Senate funding divisions to be melded together into one major funding bill. The combination of those bills will not take place tomorrow. It will then have to go to the Tax Committee for a final stop before it hits the Senate floor. The House is having a floor session tomorrow, which will allow it to process the committee report from today's Tax Committee, making it possible for the bill to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday. HF 3172 is going to be the consolidated supplemental funding bill considered by the full House and it is possible that could happen as early as Tuesday. The Senate is a bit behind the House in that respect, but I would expect they will finish work on their supplemental funding bill by the end of next week.
The decision to exclude most policy items from the supplemental appropriations bill is causing a bit of a stir because it leaves the fate of the policy bills somewhat in doubt. Traditionally, policy bills and appropriations bills from each subject area are combined into one omnibus bill. However, this year, the spending adjustments are all going into one bill with a limited amount of policy language within the bill. Because of this, the policy bills will have to pass each floor and head to conference committee where differences will be negotiated. While neither the House or Senate education policy bills contain controversial items at this point, negotiating between the bodies is always a challenge to develop a compromise bill, especially when the timeline for finishing may be truncated. I reported yesterday that there appears to be a desire to finish by April 11 and while that is not impossible, a lot of things may have to fall by the wayside and at least a large portion of a number of policy bills--and not just the education policy bills--may not be able to navigate the process.