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Early Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Getting Closer—FY 2011 Appropriations Update

Published:  December 10, 2010

When we last reported on federal appropriations, Congress had just passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating through December 3, 2010. The CR was subsequently extended through December 18, 2010, allowing Congress more time to pass a federal spending bill for fiscal year 2011.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed what it is calling the “Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011.” It is effectively a continuation of the CR through fiscal year 2011 (which goes through the end of next September). It does adjust some funding levels between programs and accounts but maintains overall discretionary spending at fiscal year 2010 levels.

The House’s approved funding levels do not include enough money to continue the augmentation of funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka ARRA or “stimulus”). ARRA, which passed in February 2009, provided money for new programs like Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation and significantly increased funding for Head Start and federally subsidized childcare.

However, the House did make a few exceptions to enable some programs to grow.  Here are a few that matter to the field of early education:

U.S.House’s Funding Levels for FY 2011 Compared to FY 2010 Spending

                                                             ($ Billions)


FY 10

FY 11


Innovation and Improvement




Race to the Top*




Title V, Part D, ESEA*

(subject specific programs & Teacher Incentive Fund)




Head Start (including Early Head Start)




Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG)




(* Race to the Top and Title V, Part D, ESEA are among the programs receiving funding under "Innovation and Improvement.")
The programs highlighted above all received small increases, but most don’t come close to what the President requested. Take Head Start: The President requested an increase of nearly $1 billion, in part to enable the program to continue offering the new slots for Early Head Start families made possible with the ARRA dollars.  (See our analysis of the President’s request here.) The House’s proposed increase is only $313 million.
In the case of Race to the Top, the House had to make a special exception because the competitive grant program was created within ARRA and was not even mentioned in the FY 2010 spending bill. The House did not do the same for Investing in Innovations (i3). (Education Week’s Alyson Klein discusses this in her blog Politics K-12.) 

Other programs saw cuts to balance the difference. For example, as requested by the President, the House provided $1.5 billion less for high-speed rail projects and $6 billion less for the Census. In education, the school improvement program funding was reduced by about $1.7 million. (For more on other K-12 and higher education funding levels read our sister blog, Ed Money Watch.)

This spending bill is not a done deal. The Senate still needs to pass the House’s bill or its own version. Word is they may try to pass an omnibus bill with an additional $19 billion or so, which could include more funding for early childhood programs. It was the Senate appropriations subcommittee, after all, that included $300 million for the Early Learning Challenge Fund. But it remains to be seen if the Senate actually has the votes to pass an omnibus bill. (An omnibus bill incorporates all of the 12 separate appropriation bills into one spending bill.)

More waiting for now. But Congress will have to do something by December 18—whether it’s the passage of another short-term continuing resolution or of an actual budget bill for fiscal year 2011.

Stay tuned. Early Ed Watch will continue to report on FY 2011 federal education appropriations. A list of our posts on President Obama's budget request and Congress's actions to date can be found here.

For a complete timeline of the fiscal year 2011 appropriations process, read this analysis from the Federal Education Budget Project.

For a detailed explanation of the fiscal year 2011 Congressional Budget Actions, read this policy paper from the Federal Education Budget Project.

And for more on the proposed funding so far for birth to 12th grade education and childcare programs, read these previous posts from Early Ed Watch: FY 2011 Appropriations Part 1 and Part 2.

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