Congress returns next week from its annual August recess to a daunting agenda. Health care reform legislation will top that list, with President Obama addressing a joint session of Congress on that topic on September 9. Congress will also have to finalize the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010, which begins on October 1, although that process will certainly not be concluded by then. Energy legislation is also near the top of many legislators' wish lists for completion this year.
Also near the top of the agenda is the higher education budget reconciliation legislation that contains President Obama's American Graduation Initiative. Before the August recess, the House Education and Labor Committee passed their version of this legislation, H.R. 3221. The full House is expected to take up this legislation in the next few weeks.
Senate staffers have been busy over the recess crafting their version of this important legislation, and we expect that it will be introduced by late September. The FY 2010 budget sets an October 15 deadline for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee to report out their bill.
AACC has voiced strong support for H.R. 3221, with its substantial infusion of resources into the nation's community colleges. However, we continue to seek improvements to this legislation in key areas, as detailed on the AACC website. The AACC government relations staff recently concluded its first webinar on the American Graduation Initiative, and plans to conduct two more. We'll be getting out the details soon. There will also be on online jam in support of the initiative on September 16.