Congress Passes Continuing Resolution as Omnibus Awaits Amendment Votes

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In lieu of Senate passage of the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 1105), the United States House of Representatives and Senate Friday passed a continuing resolution to fund the operation of the federal government through March 11. The omnibus, which was approved in the House Feb. 25, was expected to pass the Senate March 6, but Democrats failed to achieve the necessary support for a cloture vote as Republicans continued to to introduce amendments to the spending package.

The omnibus is an appropriations bill for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009. The measure, if passed, will bring significant funds to education and education technology above and beyond those provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, although levels of funding for some important programs are vague, even at this late date.

In particular, in the category of school technology, funds are available for but not specifically allocated to Title II, Part D of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965 (ESEA), otherwise known as "Enhancing Education Through Technology" or "EETT"--the sole source of federal funding for education technology under ESEA.

In the stimulus package signed into law back in February, EETT received a near-record $650 million. In the new omnibus package, EETT is mentioned, but the amount of money allocated to it is shared among a number of other programs. The omnibus includes $5.36 billion in funding that could potentially be used for EETT, although it's unclear how these funds will be divided up. Programs that could receive this funding include: Parts A, B, and D of Title II; Part B of Title IV; subparts 6 and 9 of Part D of Title V; Parts A and B of Title VI; and parts B and C of title VII of ESEA (excluding section 5494). These also include the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act; section 203 of the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002; the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003; and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Several billion dollars in additional education funding will also be available when and if the omnibus reaches final passage. Additional amendments will be introduced Monday and possibly Tuesday. A final vote is expected in the Senate late Monday or Tuesday once all pending amendments have been considered.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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