America Forward Weekly Tip Sheet: Policy and Advocacy (12/6)

Below is the latest America Forward “Tip Sheet,” a weekly update on Federal activity related to education, workforce development, and other priorities of the America Forward Coalition.

Last Week in Washington

Last Thursday, December 2nd, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through February 18, 2022. The CR extends government funding for programs at the Fiscal Year 2021 rate and includes a $7 billion emergency fund for Afghan refugees. A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found here.

Negotiations on the Build Back Better Act continued in the Senate last week. A meeting between a bipartisan group of Senators and the Senate Parliamentarian was held to discuss immigration provisions in the House-passed version of the bill and their viability under the Senate’s Byrd rule (which limits the inclusion of certain provisions in a reconciliation bill like Build Back Better). It is expected that changes will need to be made to the immigration provisions in order to meet the recommendation from the Parliamentarian. Senate leaders have not scheduled a vote on the bill which could mean that the reconciliation process is carried over into the new year.

Negotiations on an increase in the debt limit remained at a stalemate last week, as a December 15th deadline approaches. There have been bipartisan discussions between congressional leaders on whether to include a debt limit increase in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but that option seems unlikely given the lack of votes on both sides of the aisle in the House of Representatives.

President Joe Biden and the White House announced new actions last week to protect Americans against the Delta and Omicron variants as we head into the winter. The plan includes booster access for all adults; vaccine plans for students; expanding free, at-home testing; safety protocols for international travel; workplace protections; treatment pills to reduce hospitalizations and deaths; and global vaccination efforts. You can find the full plan here.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Issues Request for Information on Rigorous Research on Interventions That Promote Postsecondary Success

The What Works Clearinghouse announced a request for information (RFI), to garner public input to help identify rigorous research on education practices designed to improve postsecondary student success. Use the link above to learn more. The comment period ends this Wednesday, December 8, 2021.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Announces $20 Million in American Rescue Plan Grants to Promote American Indian Resilience in Education for Native Communities During Pandemic

Advancing its commitment to equity, meaningful consultation, and relief for Tribal Nations, the U.S. Department of Education announced approximately $20 million in grants to Tribal Educational Agencies (TEAs) to meet the urgent needs of students in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Rescue Plan Act’s American Indian Resilience in Education (AIRE) grant program will fund culturally relevant projects designed to assist and encourage Native American children and youth to enter, remain in, or re-enter school at any grade level from Pre-K through grade 12. These activities include a broad range of direct education, health, and workforce preparation services for Indigenous students, their teachers, and their families.

Update: U.S. Department of Education Approves State Plans for Use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students

The U.S. Department of Education has now announced its approval of forty-nine state and territory plans, including Washington, D.C., for the use of ARP funds to support K-12 schools and students, except in Florida, Mississippi, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

A table tracking the status of the plans for each state that submitted them can be found here, and plans submitted under the Outlying Areas State Educational Agencies Fund can be found here.

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