Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 Provides Additional $90 Billion in Discretionary Spending Over Next Two Years
ACE and a group of 21 higher education associations sent a letter Friday to House and Senate appropriations leaders, asking that higher education be made a priority as their committees move forward on the remaining spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, which is already underway.
Congress approved a bipartisan, two-year budget package at the end of October that provides for substantial increases in federal spending over the next two fiscal years, which the associations believe should be drawn upon to expand student aid and research funding and to restore programs that have been cut.
Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (H.R. 1314), an additional $90 billion has been made available for discretionary spending for FY 2016 and 2017. Funding for non-defense discretionary programs (the category nearly all higher education programs fall under) has increased by $33 billion for FY 2016 to a total of $527 billion, and remains at that level for FY 2017.
Now that a satisfactory budget framework has been established, House and Senate leadership are strategizing on how to complete appropriations work before the current funding plan expires on Dec. 11.
Last week, the Senate took up and unanimously passed its first appropriations bill this year, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill. The House has passed six of the 12 annual spending bills.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has reportedly polled members of House budget conference members on whether to resume consideration of individual spending bills or proceed with an omnibus bill.