Congress to Pass Stopgap Spending Bill With No Major Riders for Higher Ed

September 19, 2012

[Correction (9/20/2012, 11:05 a.m.): This article originally misreported that the legislation had passed on Wednesday.]

The federal government won't shut down, at least not this month. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass legislation on Thursday to approve a continuing resolution, already endorsed by the House last week, that would extend current federal appropriations through March 27, 2013. The White House has said that President Obama will sign the bill.

The resolution would sustain the current annual budget of $1-trillion, with a 0.6-percent increase. The current appropriations were set to expire on September 30, the end of the 2012 fiscal year. Congress has yet to finish work on spending bills for 2013.

As part of a bipartisan compromise to pass the stopgap measure, the bill does not contain any significant policy riders, including those affecting higher education, that appropriators debated as the Senate and House drafted their versions of budget bills for the 2013 fiscal year. The Senate version would have restored a pathway for students without high-school diplomas to receive federal aid, for example. The House version included a provision that would have prevented the Department of Education from enforcing the gainful-employment requirement of the Higher Education Act.

Such policy changes will now have to wait to be considered until after the November elections, during a lame-duck session of Congress. At that time, lawmakers will also have to deal with looming automatic cuts in spending across the federal government that are scheduled to take effect on January 2.