Partial Government Shutdown Continues as New Congress Begins
The 116th Congress convened last week and the House immediately turned attention to approving an appropriations bill designed to end the partial government shutdown, triggered by the White House’s budget request for $5 billion to expand the southern border wall. The House measure, approved Thursday evening (Jan. 3), did not include funding for wall. The House vote shifts the budget debate back to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he will not bring any Fiscal Year 2019 legislation to the Senate floor that does not have the President’s support.
This partial closure will not impact the U.S. Department of Education (as it is among the federal agencies for which funding was approved last fall). However, other agencies – such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Office of Management and Budget – will be closed until Congress and the White House negotiate a resolution. The delay in completing the FY2019 funding process will likely impact the release of the Administration’s FY2020 budget request to Congress, which typically occurs the first Monday in February. NSBA will provide updates as negotiations continue.
Although the Federal Communications Commission is closed during the partial government shutdown, program operations for the E-rate program will not be disrupted. Daily administration of the E-Rate is conducted by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). USAC is an independent, not-for-profit corporation, supported by the telecommunications industry through Universal Service Fund (USF) receipts, not federal appropriations. Participating schools and districts should continue regular communications with USAC, as needed. The E-Rate program provides almost $4 billion annually in subsidies to school districts and libraries to facilitate affordable telecommunications services and Internet access.
From other sources:
Another potential impact on schools would be the effect on students whose families depend on government assistance to pay for food. According to The Hill:
“The USDA will run out of funds to provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, if the shutdown drags into February, something that would affect 38 million Americans.”
Although federal school meals programs are also funded through and administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), funding for those programs is anticipated to last through the month of February. CBS News reports:
“Child Nutrition programs, including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Feeding, Summer Food Service and Special Milk will continue operations through February, according to the USDA.”