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Building Back Better: This Year's Progress and Next Year's Outlook
It has almost been a full year since then President-Elect Biden started talking about his Build Back Better agenda. From those first proposals to the most recent text introductions from the Senate, this agenda has been amorphous: changing shape, reducing in size, and generally keeping all in the policy and advocacy world on their toes, including NASP and our partners. The House passed their version of Build Back Better in November. Senate Majority Leader Schumer is hopeful that the Senate will pass their version by the end of the year, but it remains unclear if the bill will make it across the finish line. The Senate must abide by the Byrd Rule, meaning many elements of the House-passed bill must be stripped before the Senate can consider it, a process referred to as the Byrd Bath. Last night, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Finance Committees released their latest language for the reconciliation bill, which, like the House-passed bill, includes:
- Universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, increased investments for Head Start, and high-quality child care
- Increases in student financial aid and increased investments for HBCUs and other minority serving institutions
- Efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change
- Expansion of child nutrition programs
- Investment in educator workforce shortages, including school psychologists
- Investments in mental health and trauma recovery supports including Project Aware, the National Suicide Lifeline, and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Once the Senate passes their bill, any remaining differences must be resolved with the House, and each chamber must then pass the compromise legislation before it can be signed by the President.
While we wait on final word, NASP’s advocacy team remains focused on getting our priorities for FY2022 appropriations across the finish line. With $1 billion in funding to address school psychology workforce shortages hanging in the balance, your advocacy is critical to securing the largest investment in the school-based mental health workforce. You can tell your Senators how important the FY2022 appropriations bill is to your work here. NASP will continue to update school psychologists on this important legislation through social media and the Policy Matters blog. Thank you for your advocacy throughout 2021. We are excited to continue our important work together in 2022!