The Senate voted 51-49 late on Oct. 19 to pass a budget resolution for FY 2018 after an hours-long marathon session on the Senate floor. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joined with every Democrat and independent to vote against the bill.
The bill, meant to outline spending for the fiscal year, is widely viewed primarily as a vehicle for passing tax reform: It contains a legislative tool called reconciliation, which would allow Republicans to move tax legislation through the Senate on a simple majority vote.
Tax reform stands to impact higher education in a range of ways: A number of higher education tax provisions have been enacted over the years to help students and families save and pay for college and repay student loans. Colleges and universities also have a great interest in the research and development tax credit, as well as the charitable deduction and charitable giving incentives.
Still, the document does outline Senate Republicans’ overall spending priorities. It maintains spending at 2017 levels for the year, but would then cut nondefense spending in subsequent years, leading to a $106 billion cut in 2027.
The Hill reported today that while the House passed its own budget resolution earlier this month, it is now expected to take up the Senate measure this Thursday, Oct. 26. While the Senate bill includes the same reconciliation language as the House bill, it does not include the instructions to various committees to make more than $200 billion in specific cuts to mandatory programs over the next 10 years, approximately $20 billion of which are directed at programs overseen by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The House bill also would have reduced the overall level of non-defense discretionary spending by roughly $8 billion for FY 2018. This is the category of spending that includes nearly all federal funding for student aid and research.