Federal Legislative Report 116-07

Delivered via Email: January 14, 2020


With only days remaining on the 2019 legislative calendar, congressional leaders and the White House finalized work on a massive omnibus spending bill that will fund the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and other agencies through the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2020). 

According to a press release provided by the House Committee on Appropriations, the FY20 appropriations bill (H.R. 1865) that funds education programs includes $184.9 billion in discretionary funding. This is an increase of $4.9 billion over FY19 and $43 billion over the President's FY20 budget request.

The deal reached will provide a total of $72.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for the USDE. This represents a $1.3 billion increase above FY19 and is $8.7 billion above the President's budget request. This includes a $450 million increase to $16.3 billion for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Title I, and a $400 million increase to $12.8 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Grants to States.

In addition to the increases in funding for Title I and IDEA, the federal budget deal provides funding for many other K-12 education programs:
  • $76 million increase to $2.1 billion for ESSA Title II-A Supporting Effective Instruction grants
  • $50 million increase to $787 million for ESSA Title III English Language Acquisition grants
  • $40 million increase to $1.2 billion for ESSA Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants
  • $28 million increase to $1.2 billion for ESSA Title IV-B 21st Century Community Learning Centers grants
  • $123 million for a new Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Initiative to support SEL and "whole child" approaches to education. Within this amount, the bill provides $65 million for the Education Innovation and Research program for grants for evidence-based, field-initiated innovations that address student social, emotional, and cognitive needs.
  • $23 million for a new competition within the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program with a priority for teacher professional development and pathways into teaching that provide a strong foundation in child development and learning, including skills for implementing SEL strategies.
  • $10 million within the School Safety National Activities program to make schools safer through a new competition that will help school districts directly increase the number of mental health and child development experts in schools.
  • $8 million increase to $25 million for Full-Service Community Schools to provide comprehensive services and expand evidence-based models that meet the holistic needs of children, families, and communities.
  • $5 million increase to $65 million within the Education Innovation and Research program for grants to expand opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), including computer science.
  • $440 million for the Charter School Program, level with FY19 and $60 million below the President's budget request.
  • $640 million for the expansion of rural broadband service to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services.
The bill contains several other provisions of interest.

Tobacco age raised - The legislation includes provisions to raise the minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other vaping products, from 18 to 21.

"Cadillac Tax" eliminated - The legislation eliminates the “Cadillac Tax,” a 40 percent levy on generous health-insurance coverage. This tax, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, was intended to help drive down health care spending by creating incentives for employers to reduce coverage costs to avoid getting hit by the tax. However, it drew strong opposition from both employers and unions. As a result, this tax was repeatedly delayed and has never gone into effect. Barring its repeal, it had been slated to take effect in 2022.

Census funding - The legislation provides $7.6 billion to fund the 2020 Census to help ensure an accurate count.

Gun violence research - The legislation provides $25 million for gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control.


Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published new regulations governing category two of the E-Rate program. E-Rate helps school and libraries pay for broadband access through category one and category two services. Category one services provide connectivity to schools and libraries, while category two services provide connectivity within them. The new rules make several changes for school districts that use the program to support their broadband networks, including:
  • Permitting school districts to allocate their category two funding among their schools;
  • Increasing the category two funding floor for small, rural schools from $9,200 to $25,000 starting in 2021;
  • Making managed internal broadband services, caching and basic maintenance of internal connections permanently eligible for category two support; and
  • Making the category two budget structure, first adopted by the FCC in 2014, permanent.


The USDE and the Department of Health and Human Services released Joint Guidance on the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to student health records. The guidance represents an update to a document first published in 2008. The document aims to help school district leaders understand how the two laws apply to student data, including when schools may release covered data without parent or eligible student consent, including during health or public safety emergencies. If necessary, IASB Policy Services will update policies affected by this Guidance this summer.


This week, the USDE announced plans to examine five major federal education programs: Part A of Titles I, II, III, and IV of ESSA – which will include school improvement grants provided under Section 1003 of Title I, Part A – as well as Title I, Part B of the IDEA. The USDE hopes to learn how schools are using these programs and how they can be improved. The study will use a representative sample of 400 school districts and will examine budgets, plans, expenditure data, and personnel and payroll data. The study will also collect data on district and school allocations, and it will include the use of surveys and interviews to obtain more in-depth data. The USDE will begin to collect preliminary information in May 2020, and the district and school-level data collection will begin in September 2020. Comments will be accepted until February 24, 2020. Further information is available through the Federal Register notice, which may be accessed here.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in late November on Medicaid fiscal accountability that is primarily focused on hospitals and other institutional services, but could have a broader impact on other community-based supplemental payment programs, including school-based services. Comments are due for the NPRM on February 1, 2020.