US House takes up $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package

Last week the US House committee chairs released and began mark-up on a series of reconciliation bills that are intended to provide $3.5 trillion in new investments. The reconciliation bills are based on elements of President Joe Biden’s American Families and Jobs Plans.According to the budget resolution passed by Congress, House committees are instructed to finish their work by September 15. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans for the House to consider the package of bills at the same time as the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is currently set to be voted on by September 27.

The APLU released a preliminary analysis of the budget reconciliation bills with provisions specific to the higher education community. Included that may be of particular interest to the UO community are the following:

  • The House Education and Labor Committee’s voted 28-22 on Friday to approved at least $761 billion in spending, including $111 billion in new funds for higher education. The bill would increase the maximum Federal Pell Grant by $500, far less than the Biden administration’s proposed $1,475 increase. The bulk of the new investment would go toward a new federal-state partnership to support tuition-free access to community colleges. Additional funds would provide students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Universities (TCUs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) with tuition reductions for their first two years of schooling.
  • Beginning with award year 2023-2024, the US Department of Education would make competitive grants to states to support college retention and completion activities. State eligibility would be limited to those participating in the federal-state partnership to provide free community college.
  • The House Committee on Natural Resources budget reconciliation bill would provide significant investments in research, education, and jobs training, including $900 million to reduce wildfire risk on landscapes and communities through fire preparedness. 
  • Through the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the National Science Foundation (NSF) would see significant investments with $3.43 billion in funding for research-enabling equipment, facilities, and infrastructure. $1 billion of this funding would support academic research facilities modernization, of which $300 million would be set aside for HBCUs and MSIs.
  • Further, $7.55 billion would be provided to NSF to fund or extend new and existing research awards, scholarships, and fellowships across all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and STEM education disciplines, of which $700 million would be set aside for HBCUs and MSIs.

UO Government and Community Relations and APLU will continue to update their analyses as additional bills are made available.