Federal Legislative Report 117-06

Delivered via email: December 10, 2021

President Biden Signs Second Continuing Resolution to Fund Government

President Joe Biden has signed legislation as a short-term measure to continue funding the government until February 18, 2022. This is the second continuing resolution President Biden has signed in three months to avert a government shutdown.
The House and Senate have not agreed on spending levels for FY 2022, which began October 1. As you may recall, to avert a government shut down on October 1, Congress passed a continuing resolution funding the government at FY 2021 levels until December 3. Congress again could not agree on new spending levels for FY 2022 and again passed another short-term measure to continue funding the government past December 3.
Failure to pass a FY 2022 budget, or even several continuing resolutions, would result in a government shutdown which would close most government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education. It would affect local school districts that operate Head Start programs and districts that depend on Impact Aid. In the long term, without a federal FY 2022 spending plan in place, it is difficult for state education agencies and local school districts receiving Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) grants to plan budgets for the 2022-2023 school year. It is unknown what those ESEA grant amounts would be in the federal FY 2022 budget.

Debt Ceiling on Track to be Lifted

There does appear to be a deal to increase the nation’s debt ceiling ahead of the U.S. Treasury’s deadline of December 15, when the government’s borrowing limit would be reached. In the House version of legislation to delay cuts to Medicare, a provision was added to allow only a simple majority vote requirement for the Senate to pass legislation to increase the debt ceiling. This would be a one-time only change to the Senate’s procedure to consider legislation pertaining to the debt ceiling, which usually requires 60 votes for such legislation to pass.
At the time of publication of this report, the legislation awaits the President’s signature to become law. Sometime before December 15, the Senate will introduce legislation to formally increase the debt ceiling by approximately $2.5 trillion. This is important so that the nation does not default on its debt and allows continued spending on government programs.

Troops to Teachers Program Likely to be Saved to Help Teacher Shortage

In October, the U.S. Department of Defense stated that it was shutting down the Troops to Teachers program as part of an agency-wide initiative to focus on higher priority programs relevant to the national defense. This did not please veterans organizations, which launched an initiative to include funding for the program in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act which passed the House earlier this week. It now heads to the Senate.  
The Troops to Teachers program was created in 1993 to help transition military veterans into an education career to help address the teacher shortage in the United States. Since the program’s inception, it has assisted over 100,000 individuals entering the teaching field by providing up to $10,000 in financial support and coordinating with state officials for placement in schools in need of teachers.  

Youth Mental Health Advisory

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued an advisory on the youth mental health crisis that has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before COVID-19 , one in five U.S. children between the ages of three and 17 was experiencing a mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral disorder. Additionally, one in three high school students reported a persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness, 19% of high school students considered attempting suicide, while 16% admitted to having a suicide plan which contributed to 6,600 suicide deaths in 2020 among youths aged 10 to 24 years of age.
While the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread prevention methods, such as school closings, on youth mental health are yet to be seen, early studies have indicated depression and anxiety symptoms among youths have doubled during the pandemic. The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory outlines a national and multi-jurisdictional framework, including what educators and school districts can do to help solve this growing crisis.