ACTE Policy Agenda

Pending/Current Congressional Action

Download an overview of ACTE’s 2024 legislative priorities here.


Congress operates under a fiscal year that runs from October 1 – September 30. The federal budget process usually begins each February when the president submits the Administration’s budget request to Congress. This request is not binding, but it serves to outline the Administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and Congress may use it as a blueprint in crafting its own budget.

The House and Senate Budget Committees are responsible for developing the congressional budget. These committees study the president’s proposals, along with requests from other committees and Members of Congress, and put together their own “budget resolution.” The budget resolution sets a “spending ceiling” for each broad budget category. There are 17 major categories for which the Budget Committees recommend spending ceilings. CTE and workforce development programs are part of the category known as “Function 500 – Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services.” The budget resolution has no binding authority over specific program funding levels, but the higher the total funding levels in the budget resolution, the higher the likelihood of increases for programs such as Perkins, HEA, WIOA and ESSA.  

Once the budget resolution has been agreed upon and passed by both chambers of Congress, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees begin the work of setting specific funding levels for individual programs, including Perkins, through appropriations bills. The 12 annual appropriations bills are designated to subcommittees within the appropriations committees. Funding decisions concerning CTE, other education programs and workforce development are made in the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. 

If approved at the committee level, the funding bills are then considered by the full House and Senate, with any differences between the two versions reconciled by a conference committee. Often many of the larger and more controversial appropriations bills are not completed on time, and Congress must pass a “continuing resolution” (CR) to continue program funding at current levels until a new appropriations bill can be passed.

Federal funding for CTE through Perkins helps to build the capacity of secondary and postsecondary institutions to prepare students for college and career success, and is essential to moving our economy forward.

CTE Policy Watch Blog: Federal Funding Blogs

The current version of the Higher Education Act (HEA) was signed into law in 2008. HEA was originally passed in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his “Great Society” agenda as part of the war on poverty. The purpose of the Act was to ensure higher education was accessible to all students through increased resources to postsecondary institutions and student financial assistance. Additionally, the law supports teacher education programs to ensure America’s educators are fully prepared before entering the classroom. 

The 2008 reauthorization increased reporting requirements for postsecondary institutions in an effort to be more transparent about the cost of higher education, and placed an emphasis on preparing more teachers for high-need subject areas. Additionally, the bill made several adjustments to financial aid availability, including implementing year-round Pell grants. However, HEA is now long overdue for reauthorization. The higher education landscape is different today than it was more than a decade ago, and it’s important for HEA to reflect today’s higher education ecosystem. Existing congressional proposals aim to tackle the rising cost of college, increase access and equity, and align workforce demand with education, among other things.

ACTE Policy Recommendations
CRS Report: The Higher Education Act: A Primer
CTE Policy Watch Blog: HEA Blogs

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created under a1996 welfare reform bill, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (P.L. 104-193). It was designed to replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. 

The TANF block grant’s overall purpose is to “increase the flexibility of states” to meet four statutory goals: (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may remain in their homes; (2) reduce dependency of needy parents on government benefits through work, job preparation, and marriage; (3) reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancies; and (4) promote the formation and maintenance of two-parent families. The 1996 welfare reform law and the creation of TANF altered the federal rules that applied to states for their cash assistance programs. It also established a broad-purpose block grant that provides funds to states to address both the effects and root causes of childhood economic disadvantage.

ACTE Policy Recommendations
CRS In-Focus Paper: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant
CRS Report: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant: A Legislative History
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Policy Basics – An Introduction to TANF

Federal Policy Implementation

  • The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) is the principal source of dedicated federal investment in CTE. It supports the efforts of states, school districts and postsecondary institutions to improve their programs and ensure all students have access to high-quality CTE.
  • Perkins was last authorized on July 31, 2018 as the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, though we refer to it as “Perkins V.” The new law does not take effect until July 1, 2019. Current law (Public Law 109-270) is based off of the last reauthorization in 2006.
  • For more information visit ACTE’s Perkins V implementation page here, which includes a summary of the new law.
  • Follow the latest news on Perkins V and its implementation on the CTE Policy Watch Blog here.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (P.L. 89-10, as amended) was enacted in 1965 and was last reauthorized in 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95). ESEA is the primary source of federal aid for elementary and secondary education in America.

The largest and most prominent portion of ESEA is the Title I-A program, which authorizes federal aid targeting the education of disadvantaged students and schools. Beyond Title I-A, other programs authorized by ESEA provide grants to support a wide variety of educational activities and supports. These include recruitment and professional development resources for educators; after-school instruction and care; safe and healthy students; technology improvements; expansion of public school choice options; English learners language instruction; and Impact Aid to which are funds used to make up for the additional burden placed on local education agencies (LEAs) from federal activities that take place in those districts.

ESSA Fact Sheet: Academics and CTE in the Classroom
ESSA Fact Sheet: Career Guidance and Counseling
ESSA Fact Sheet: Career Readiness Accountability
ESSA Fact Sheet: Teacher Recruitment
CRS Report: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act: A Primer
CTE Policy Watch Blog: ESEA Blogs

The Workforce Investment Act (P.L. 105-220) was enacted in 1998 and was last reauthorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) (P.L. 113-128) in 2014. WIOA is the primary federal legislation governing federal workforce development programs. It is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy. The latest reauthorization emphasized an increased coordination and cohesion among federal workforce development and related programs, instead of them working independent of one another. WIOA  authorized appropriations through FY2020, which means a new authorization should occur prior to September 30, 2020.

Aligned by Design: WIOA and CTE
CRS Report: The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and the One-Stop Delivery System
Employment & Training Administration: WIOA Overview
CTE Policy Watch Blog: WIOA Blogs

Additional Issues

  • Effective collection, analysis and sharing of data related to CTE programs are critical for successful measurement of student achievement. ACTE supports smart data collection and accountability systems that preserve student privacy while helping consumers make positive educational choices. Read More

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) authorized the creation of a grant program that provides federal funding to states for the education of children with disabilities. As a condition for receiving federal funds, the states must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for children with disabilities. FAPE is essentially a specifically designed instruction that provides appropriate supports and services to remove barriers and ensure that children with disabilities receive the same education as their peers. These supports and services come at no cost to the parents. This program, last reauthorized in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, receives its funding through the annual appropriations process. In FY 2019, it received $13.45 billion.

The IDEA’s predecessor, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142, passed in 1975), was crafted in response to the increased understanding of the need to educate children with disabilities, and also to numerous judicial decisions that required states provide an equal education to all children, including those with disabilities.

CRS Report: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: A Primer
USED Office of Special Education Programs
IDEA Partnership
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability

In the most recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure report card, America received a D+. This report looks at the current physical condition and performance of all forms of infrastructure, and the need for investments accordingly.  The report claims a D grade means that the “infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of serious concern with strong risk of failure.”

Infrastructure is the backbone of the U.S. economy and a necessary input to every economic output. The role of infrastructure in economic growth is critical to the nation’s prosperity and the public’s health and welfare. Infrastructure’s condition has a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product (GDP), employment, personal income, and international competitiveness.

A 2017 report done by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University estimated that a trillion dollar investment would create as many as 11 million new positions. With both parties in Congress discussing making significant investments into America’s infrastructure, there will be a heightened need for more skilled workers to be able to plan, build, maintain and operate the various aspects of new infrastructure, which includes not just roads and bridges, but also water, energy, sewer, cyber and more.

Georgetown University Report: Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Proposals Could Create Millions of Jobs

  • Several federal programs provide financial support for veterans pursuing postsecondary education opportunities once they return home. ACTE supports streamlining pathways to career success and effective training opportunities for returning military service members.