As a result of the midterm election, there will be many changes in the upcoming 116th Congress. The most notable change is that the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives and will assume leadership of the House in January. In the next Congress, Democrats will Chair all House Congressional Committees and set the legislative agenda through office of the Speaker of the House. Both parties will hold leadership elections and announce Committee assignments for each chamber in the coming months.
The Basic Education Coalition applauds Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL), Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN), Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Congressman Dan Donovan (R-NY) for introducing the Keeping Girls in School Act in the House of Representatives.
This bill will be a great way for Congress to express support for international education for adolescent girls, and if passed would ensure that USAID continues to address the specific barriers that adolescent girls face in continuing their secondary education. KGISA also codifies the Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls into law and requires successive five-year renewals of the strategy. If your organization is interested in endorsing this legislation when it is introduced next week, please email Kirby (email@example.com) for more information.
Appropriators in the House of Representatives and Senate are working diligently to try and pass as many of the 12 fiscal year 2019 annual appropriations bills as they can before the 2018 fiscal year ends on the 30th of this month.
Given that the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) bill has not been passed yet by either chamber of Congress, Congress will pass a short term Continuing Resolution by the end of the month that will fund SFOPS programs, including Basic Education, at current levels until December 7th.
USAID is currently writing their Education Policy and Implementation Guidance which will be released in November. The Policy and Implementation Guidance will be open for public consultation prior to the November release, similar to the roll-out process for the whole-of-government strategy.
USAID has released a draft whole-of-government strategy on international basic education and will be accepting feedback on the draft strategy from July 17th to July 22nd. The BEC Board of Directors will meet with USAID Senior Coordinator for Basic Education Julie Cram on Thursday, July 19th to provide in-person feedback and analysis on the draft strategy. If your organization has additional feedback to share with USAID, please feel free to submit written comments to Kirby (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Beth (email@example.com) by 3:00 PM on Wednesday, July 18th.
Letter from Congress to USAID Administrator Mark Green on Education Strategy: BEC worked closely with Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) on a letter to USAID Administrator Mark Green that expresses support for the U.S. strategy on international basic education. The letter is closely aligned to BEC’s policy recommendations and we are glad to announce that the bipartisan Congressional letter gained 21 cosigners in the House of Representatives and was well-received by staff at USAID.
Basic Education Funding: In the fiscal year 2019 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPS) Bill, the House of Representatives level funded the basic education account at $800 million, with $90 million designated for GPE. The Senate SFOPS bill includes $515 million for the basic education account and $90 million for GPE. The House and Senate have both passed their respective bills out of committee, but neither has passed the bill in the full chamber. BEC will continue to advocate to Congress to include the higher funding level from the House bill in any final agreement that will be made in bicameral conference negotiations.
We’re also glad to see that this year’s House of Representatives’ SFOPS report contains several of our community’s recommendations, including an increased focus on early childhood education, school-based integrating programing, and local engagement and ownership of development programs.
Community Letter Supporting House Appropriations Funding Level and Report Language: BEC is joining the Global Campaign for Education, RESULTS, and others in a letter to senior appropriators that expresses support for the House of Representatives funding level and report language on international basic education in the final fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill. If your organization is interested in joining this effort, please let Kirby (firstname.lastname@example.org) know by close of business on Thursday, July 19th.
USAID Self-Reliance Metrics: USAID has released metrics for self-reliance which will be used to assess countries’ overall development progress. The metric for education is a World Bank indicator which measures student achievement in reading through comparative cross-country international tests by examining the percentage of students attaining a minimum proficiency in reading at the end of primary school.
2018 USAID Progress Report: In June, USAID published a new progress report which provides an updated assessment of the progress made under the 2011-2018 education strategy.
On June 13, 2018 the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee in the House of Representatives provided $800,000,000 in funding for basic education in the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. Of the $800,000,000 allocated to basic education, $90,000,000 is made available for multilateral support.
As part of an effort to drive program decision-making and design towards the field with more efficient and innovative technical support, USAID has proposed moving the Office of Education into a new Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation (DDI).
Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act out of Committee. This bill, introduced by Representatives Royce and Frankel, would require that all USAID strategies, projects, and activities are shaped by gender analysis and use standardized indicators.
Now that funding for fiscal year 2018 has been finalized, Congress has begun work on FY 2019 Appropriations Bills. We’ve been working with allies in the House and Senate on Dear Colleague letters to Members of Congress on the Appropriations Committees that call for robust funding for international basic education.
The State-Foreign Operations portion of the final FY18 omnibus spending bill slightly reduces the overall international affairs funding to $54 billion compared to the FY17 level of $57.5 billion. FY18 funding for international basic education is protected at $800 million, which is level to the FY17 final enacted level.
On March 19th, the BEC Board met with Julie Cram, the newly appointed Senior Coordinator for Basic Education and Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Economic Development, Education and Environment. BEC provided Ms. Cram with policy recommendations on early childhood education, numeracy, literacy, and gender for the next USAID basic education strategy and laid the groundwork for future consultation on the development of the strategy. We’re looking forward to continuing the Coalition’s engagement with USAID staff to ensure that the next strategy incorporates our input and positions USAID to make progress on international education goals.
The Basic Education Coalition (BEC) applauds Congressional leaders for passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. We are especially grateful to Ranking Member Lowey (D-NY), Chairman Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), and SFOPs Subcommittee Chairman Rogers (R-KY) for their work on the Appropriations Committee to provide robust support for international basic education in fiscal year 2018.
BEC is thrilled to announce Kirby Henslee as our new Director of Government Relations. Kirby is a passionate advocate for educational opportunities for children in need. Kirby previously managed the international basic education policy portfolio for Save the Children-US and worked closely with BEC on basic education advocacy.
Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle publicly spoke out against the President's FY19 budget request. Congress is still working to finalize the FY18 budget and we expect to see an omnibus this week. BEC has been advocating to ensure that Basic Education is protected in the final FY18 appropriations bill and we are calling for the omnibus to include the House’s higher funding level for Basic Education of $800,000,000.
House and Senate Appropriations Committees are simultaneously beginning their work on the FY19 budget. As the FY19 budget process picks up steam on the Hill, BEC is submitting the following program funding request to key Congressional offices on the Appropriations Committees: “$925,000,000 for Basic Education, with at least $800,000,000 provided as Development Assistance. USAID is working with trusted partners to mobilize U.S. resources and expertise behind common goals. We respectfully urge Congress to seek funding at the requested level in order to expand effective existing programs as part of USAID’s Education Strategy.”
The President’s FY19 Budget Request proposed a 30% cut to the International Affairs Budget relative to the FY17 enacted level. Last year, the President also suggested deep cuts in the FY18 Budget Request, but Congress rose to the occasion and spoke out in defense of US foreign assistance. For an in depth analysis of the President’s FY19 International Affairs Budget Request, reference USGLC’s “Groundhog Budget.”
Basic Education was once again targeted for drastic cuts in the FY19 Budget Request. The Administration proposed $394,530,000 for Basic Education, which would be a 51% cut from the FY17 enacted level ($800,000,000). BEC will continue to work with partner organizations and allies on the Hill to ensure strong support for Basic Education throughout the FY19 appropriations process.
In other Administration news, President Trump announced on March 13th that he will be placing Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State with former Congressman and current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. BEC will work with Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff to submit Questions for the Record on the importance of international basic education for Director Pompeo’s confirmation hearing in April.
BEC signed onto a letter to SFOP members, urging them to use the higher basic education numbers in the House Appropriations bill in the final FY18 spending bills. BEC also signed onto a letter to House and Senate Budget Committee members, urging them to maintain the International Affairs spending levels. Finally, BEC spearheaded a letter, with 17 organizations, to House and Senate Appropriators, urging them to adopt the higher House funding levels for Basic Education.
The current continuing resolution which funds the US government expires on December 8th. It is expected that Congress will pass an additional short-term resolution to continue funding the government through late December and, if an agreement is not found, through January to give appropriators time to finalize their FY18 spending bills.