House Republicans are seeking to cut the Education Department’s budget by $2.4 billion, or 3.5 percent — a substantial reduction, although far smaller than the $9.2 billion in cuts that President Trump proposed.
The House GOP also appears to have largely rejected Trump’s proposals to expand private- and public-school choice, according to education advocates who have studied an Appropriations Committee bill released Wednesday afternoon. Expanding school choice is a key priority for the White House and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“One big takeaway is that people know that what the president pushed for is not at all feasible,” said Kelly McManus, director of government affairs for the Education Trust, an advocacy organization that has been critical of Trump’s education agenda.
Trump had sought $1 billion to encourage public school districts to adopt choice-friendly policies, and another $250 million to expand private school voucher programs. The GOP budget bill appears to leave out both.
Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the Appropriations Committee’s Republican majority, declined to confirm that the two programs would not be funded, saying that would become clear next week when the committee publishes its bill report.
House Republicans would increase funding for charter schools by $28 million, to $370 million. Trump had proposed a far larger bump to $500 million.
A spokeswoman for the Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Education advocates and Democrats who had decried Trump’s proposed budget said that House Republicans’ spending plan is still unacceptable. It would cut more than $2 billion in grants for teacher training and class-size reduction, and would reduce after-school grants from $1.2 billion to $1 billion.
Much of the department’s K-12 funding would be unchanged. States would continue to receive about $15.9 billion in Title I funds to serve poor children, and the Office for Civil Rights would also be flat-funded at $108.5 million.
There are also some proposed increases, including a $200 million bump in special-education grants to states and a total of $500 million — an increase of $100 million — for a grant program that schools can use for purposes ranging from counseling to advanced coursework.
The House Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, education and related agencies is scheduled to mark up the budget bill Thursday afternoon.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) said the bill “reflects Republican priorities to cut spending and focus investments in programs our people need the most.”
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said that the proposed cuts would do “long-lasting, irreversible harm to our most vulnerable students and communities.”