WASHINGTON -- Democratic Congressional leaders and President Obama promised this winter that they would begin to realign the federal government's spending priorities toward social programs that they viewed as having been shortchanged during the Bush administration. Continuing that shift, which began with the economic stimulus legislation and has accelerated during the federal budget setting process, the House of Representatives on Friday passed the last of its 2010 spending bills, which would pour hundreds of millions of additional dollars  into education, labor and health programs.
The measure, which passed by a vote of 264 to 153, generally along party lines, funds the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, along with some smaller agencies such as the Corporation for National and Community Service and its AmeriCorps program. Of the various annual appropriations measures, this one matters most to colleges and universities -- and it contains good tidings for them, by and large.
The bill's highlights, from a higher education perspective, are that it would:
- Set the maximum Pell Grant to $5,500 in 2010, taking advantage of hundreds of dollars in mandatory funds that Congress has directed toward the program in recent budget reconciliation and economic stimulus measures.
- Leave most other student aid programs at their 2009 levels, but boost funds for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs (which help middle and high school students from low-income families prepare for college) by $20 million each, to $868 million for TRIO and $333 million for GEAR UP.
- Significantly increase spending on a set of programs for colleges that serve minority students, providing $146 million more than in 2009 for "strengthening institutions" programs for black and tribal colleges and for colleges and universities that enroll large proportions of such students.
- Boost spending on the National Institutes of Health to $31.3 billion, $942 million more than the agency is receiving this year and about $500 million more than President Obama proposed spending on biomedical research in his 2010 budget proposal.
- Increase funds for the Health Resources and Services Administration's programs that train the nation's health professions workforce, programs that have been slashed in recent years. The House bill's 2010 budget would lift spending for the programs to $529 million from $393 million in 2009.
A table listing the House bill's proposed spending on various programs appears at the bottom of this article.
In addition to funds that would flow to colleges indirectly through the federal programs funded in the bill, the legislation would also direct upwards of $125 million in money straight to institutions through lawmaker-sponsored earmarks. Among the recipients:
- Texas State University at San Marcos, $1 million for nursing curriculum development, including purchase of equipment
- The University of Massachusetts at Boston, $12 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate
- Iowa State University, Ames, $1 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for facilities and equipment
- The University of South Alabama, $2.5 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration, for facilities and equipment
- Macomb Community College, in Michigan, $550,000 from the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration to train displaced workers in the aerospace and defense industries.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to discuss its version of the spending bill on Tuesday.
|Agency/Program||2009 Appropriation||2010 Obama Budget Request||2010 House Passed|
|Pell Grants (discretionary)||$17,288,000||$17,495,000||$17,783,395|
|Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants||757,465||757,465||757,465|
|Perkins Loan cancellations||67,164||0||49,701|
|Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships||63,852||63,852||63,852|
|Academic Competitiveness /SMART Grants||0||0||0|
|Strengthening Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities||23,158||24,316||36,021|
|Strengthening Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Institutions||11,579||12,158||18,010|
|Strengthening Historically Black Colleges and Universities||238,095||250,000||283,172|
|Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions||58,500||61,425||61,425|
|Strengthening Predominantly Black Institutions||n/a||7,875||13,727|
|Minority Science and Engineering Improvement||8,577||9,006||10,000|
|Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions||93,256||97,919||136,938|
|Promoting Postbac Opportunities for Hispanic Americans||n/a||n/a||10,500|
|Strengthening Asian American and Pacific Islander-serving Institutions||2,500||2,625||4,575|
|Strengthening Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions||n/a||2,625||4,575|
|Tribally Controlled Postsecondary Voc-Tech Institutions||7,773||7,773||8,162|
|National Technical Institute for the Deaf||64,212||68,437||68,437|
|HBCU Capital Financing Loans||10,354||20,582||20,582|
|International education/foreign language||118,881||118,881||128,881|
|Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education||133,667||47,424||133,916|
|Demonstration Projects to Ensure Access for Students With Disabilities||6,755||6,755||10,755|
|Teacher Quality Partnerships||50,000||50,000||43,000|
|Vocational and adult education|
|Dislocated Worker Assistance||1,160,911||1,160,911||1,160,911|
|Child Care Access Program||16,034||16,034||17,034|
|Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need||31,030||31,030||31,030|
|Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program||3,000||3,000||3,000|
|Other Education Department offices|
|Research and statistics||617,175||689,256||664,256|
|Office for Civil Rights||96,826||103,024||103,024|
|Adult job training||861,540||861,540||861,540|
|DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES|
|National Institutes of Health||30,325,224||30,766,988||31,266,988|
|Health professions programs||392,726||528,098||529,708|
|Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education||310,000||310,000||320,000|
|CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE|