Since Congress returned in September from their recess, there has been much activity particularly as it relates to the budget and securing long-term funding for agencies and programs across government. Since there is so much in process with the possibility for resolution being reached in many areas in the coming weeks, America Forward has provided a synthesis of the major pieces of activity. In particular, there are five areas of legislation and appropriations authorities in the current Congress that would authorize new Pay for Success activity, continue to scale current work, and provide overarching support for the move to an evidence-based approach to policy and funding decisions.
These key areas continue to the most significant reform items in process in Congress and thus updates on each of them are included in this state of play update. In addition, there have been some important updates from Federal agencies on advancing Pay for Success and evidence-based practice and those are included as well after the legislative update.
1. Education: Congressional members and staff have been working diligently since August on a negotiated conference bill that resolves the differences between the House and Senate versions of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Current intel indicates that negotiations are close and that the conferenced bill could come to the floor of the House/Senate in the coming weeks. As a reminder, both the House of Representatives and Senate approved the inclusion of Pay for Success initiatives as an allowable use of state and local funds in various titles of their respective versions.
- The Every Child Achieves Act (S.1177), as passed by the Senate, includes language that would make Pay for Success initiatives an allowable use of funds through:
- Title I, Part D, which supports youth who are neglected, delinquent, or at-risk
- Title IV, which funds programs addressing student health and safety
- Early Learning, which supports coordinated systems of early learning and care services
- The Student Success Act, (H.R. 5) as passed by the House, that would make Pay for Success initiatives an allowable use of state and local funds in Title II and in the Teacher and School Leader Flexible Grant, supporting improving student outcomes and saving resources by training and supporting educators.
2. Appropriations: Though many of the individual subcommittee bills made it out of their respective chambers’ committees, very few bills were passed by either the full House or Senate and thus a Continuing Resolution (CR) was needed in order to keep the government open past September 30th. The current CR runs out on December 11th and thus Congress must agree to budget figures prior to that deadline or pass another short-term CR in order to avoid a government shutdown. Just a few weeks ago, the White House and Congress reached agreement on a long-term budget deal that would raise the debt limit and set the federal budget for the next two years. The deal would extend the debt ceiling to March 2017 and raise the budget caps set by the 2011 budget agreement. The bill would specifically increase spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending by a combined $80 billion over fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
Current Status: Since the White House and Congressional leaders reached the above mentioned budget deal, House and Senate Appropriations subcommittee and full committee chairs have been negotiating budget levels by program using the new top line figures noted in the deal. Though we know they have to reach some conclusion by December 11th, much work has already been done and some have indicated a desire to come, at least close, to conclusion around the Thanksgiving recess.
3. Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act: Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced their legislation that would create a commission to develop practices and processes for ensuring the use of outcomes and evidence when making federal policy and budget decisions. Known as the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act, the Commission would be tasked with identifying data access and inventory needs and making recommendations for how best to incorporate outcomes into federal program design.
- House: The legislation has been successfully voted out of the full House.
- Senate: The legislation was successfully voted out of committee and action is still pending for approval by the full Senate
4. Social Impact Partnership Act: Introduced in both the House and Senate, this legislation (H.R. 1336/S. 1089) would direct federal resources to states and local communities to support innovative Pay for Success arrangements. The bills aim to tackle social and public health challenges while evaluating programs more closely in order to achieve desired outcomes for those in need and more effectively use taxpayer dollars.
- House: Additional co-sponsors have signed onto the bill in just the past couple of weeks and thus the legislation now has bipartisan support from almost 25 House members. In July, the language authorizing Social Impact Partnership demonstrations was included in the Ways and Means Human Resources subcommittee discussion draft on welfare reform/TANF reauthorization. Since that draft was released negotiations around a bill have stalled and it is not anticipated that a formal piece of legislation regarding TANF reauthorization, including the Social Impact Partnership language, will be introduced this year. The House sponsors though continue to look for a way to pass the standalone legislation this year.
- Senate: The co-sponsors of the bill, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-C0), continue to look both for ways to fund the bill and avenues for moving the legislation. No new additional co-sponsors have been secured since the last update.
5. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Pay for Success Demonstration:There is bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislation that would authorize a Pay for Success multifamily energy and water conversation Pay for Success demonstration in affordable housing. The legislation would authorize HUD to test energy efficiency solutions in HUD-assisted, multi-family housing with the goal of reducing costs to the federal government.
Current Status: Language authorizing the demonstration was included in the transportation bill that passed the full House last week. However, the Senate version of the bill did not include the provision. In addition to the transportation authorizing bill, the demonstration project was also included in the Senate’s Transportation Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill but not in the House version. As a result, there are a few possible ways in which this project could be authorized in the coming weeks.
- Performance Partnership Pilots: These pilots provide an unprecedented opportunity for state, county, city and tribal governments to propose new ways to use their existing discretionary federal funding to better serve disconnected youth. Congress authorized the award of up to 10 pilots and at the end of October the first round of pilots were announced.
- HUD/DOJ Pay for Success NOFA: The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are working together to advance Pay for Success by allocating funds to launch a Pay for Success initiative implementing the permanent supportive housing model. In particular, the demonstration seeks to test the use of Pay for Success using this model for a population continuously cycling between the criminal justice and homeless systems. HUD as the agency responsible for implementing the demonstration has available $8,679,000 and is seeking feedback through this NOFA for how to implement this demonstration.
If you are interested in learning more about Pay for Success or America Forward’s Pay for Success advocacy efforts, please contact America Forward’s Government Affairs Director, Nicole Truhe at Nicole_truhe@newprofit.org.