October 1, 2018
During the last week of September, Congress passed and the President signed the omnibus appropriations bill funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (“LHHS”) for FY 2019 (Program Year 2019-2020). This represents the first time since 1996 that the LHHS bill has been completed before the beginning of the fiscal year. This legislation included another $50 million funding increase for TRIO programs, bringing the overall appropriation to $1.06 billion. It also included report language chastising the Department’s allocation of TRIO funding in FY 2018, which disregarded previous report language. Specifically, the report language stated:
The conferees reiterate concerns communicated in both the House and Senate reports related to the allocation of the fiscal year 2018 funding for TRIO programs. The Department's plan disregarded House direction to allocate funding in the same ratio as the prior fiscal year. In addition, there is also concern that the Department may be placing burdensome requirements for the existing awardees in order for them to receive any additional funding. The conferees direct the Department to include in its fiscal year 2020 Congressional Justification information about how these additional funds were awarded, including a detailed budget justification. Additionally, the conferees expect plans for funding allocations by activity within the TRIO programs to be included in the operating plan required under section 516 of this Act. Last, the conferees direct the Department to brief the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate on final funding allocations at least 30 days prior to the awarding of additional funding and/or the posting of a Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards.
This omnibus bill also included a “continuing resolution” or “CR” that extends current funding through December 7 for the programs in the other FY 2019 appropriations bills that have not yet been enacted. This now gives legislators the opportunity to spend the next several weeks in their home States and Districts during the final weeks before the November midterm elections. This time represents the perfect opportunity for TRIO supporters to connect with their Members of Congress. If you have not already done so, please extend an invitation to your legislators to visit with your students and programs this fall! Check out COE's Local Visit Action Packet (.pdf) for sample invitation letters, a sample program and other tips to help make local legislators visits a success! Need help organizing a local visit or need contact information? Please contact Kimberly Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephanie Salvador (email@example.com) by e-mail or phone at (202) 347-7430 for assistance!