When Congress passed the FY2005 Omnibus appropriations bill in fall, 2004, it included a provision that all educational institutions, public and private, receiving federal funds must teach about the constitution on Constitution Day, September 17. Since the provision does not specifically exclude colleges, many higher education officials, on advice from the U.S. Department of Education, assume that it applies to their institutions, as well as elementary and secondary schools. The provision does not specify how the instruction should be carried out. The legislation was offered by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the senior member of the Senate who was first elected in 1958.
The exact provision states, "[e]ach educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution."
The citation for the legislation is: Section 111 of Division J of Pub. L. 108-447, the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005," Dec. 8, 2004; 118 Stat. 2809, 3344-45 (Section 111(b)).