The U.S. House of Representatives voted 228-206 on Friday to pass a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which now heads to President Biden, who has indicated he will sign the bill into law “soon.”
Thirteen 13 Republican House members and all but six House Democrats voted in favor of passage of the bill. The U.S. Senate had passed the bill by a 69-30 margin back in August.
Items of interest to K-12 schools in this federal bill include:
- A total of $65 billion for broadband investment to help families access the internet and afford devices (this funding is not directly tied to schools);
- $5 billion for clean-energy school buses;
- $500 million over 5 years for competitive grants to schools and non-profits for energy efficiency improvements;
- $200 million over 5 years to remove lead contamination in school drinking water, as part of a much bigger drinking water program; and
- Reauthorizes and extends until 2023 the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which helps fund schools in 700 counties that have federal forest land (including several in Wisconsin).
Still awaiting House action is a $1.75 trillion piece of spending legislation that would fund a number of President Biden’s and Congressional Democrats’ domestic priorities, including K-12 education. The current version of that bill includes a number of items of interest to K-12 education, including:
- $300 million in supplemental funding for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which helps schools afford devices (laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.) to connect students who lack Internet connectivity;
- $113 million for “Grow Your Own” teacher and school leader development programs;
- $112 for teacher residency initiatives;
- $112 million for school principal support; and
- $161 million for personnel development efforts under Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
A vote on this so-called “Build Back Better” agenda bill has been stalled amid wrangling between House progressives and more moderate members of the House and (especially) the U.S. Senate.