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Congress Passed Fourth Pandemic Relief Bill. Will There be a Fifth?

Financial aid concept, Life buoy lifebelt with money bag This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

This Week in COVID-19 Relief Funding

Today the President will sign the fourth COVID-19 relief bill. Passed by a voice vote in the Senate and a live vote in the House of 388-5, the bill adds $484 billion bill to COVID relief funding. Funds are to be distributed as follows:

  • $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (small business fund which ran out of money last week
  • $60 billion in economic disaster loans for small businesses
  • $75 billion for emergency relief for hospitals
  • $25 billion for more coronavirus testing

The Administration has been working to get the $2.2 trillion out the door, which was made available in the CARES Act on March 27. That bill includes a total of $37.5 billion for education. This week, U.S. Secretary of Education DeVos announced the distribution mechanisms for the last two pots of education funding in that bill. For higher education, $6.25 billion is now available for institutions. It can be used to cover a range of expenses. DeVos encouraged leaders to use the funds to expand remote learning including expansion of technology infrastructure and training faculty.

The second distribution announced by the Department of Education is $13.2 billion for K-12 education. Funds will be distributed to states according to a formula, however only 10% of the money may be kept at the state level while 90% must flow through to local districts. Funds may be used to address a range of needs resulting from the pandemic. Sec. DeVos said: “This national emergency continues to shine a light on the need for all schools to be more agile. Now is the time to truly rethink education and to get creative about how we meet each student’s unique needs.”  State education agencies must apply by July 1 submitting a certification and agreement form.

Learn more

What’s Next for COVID Relief Funding?

The next COVID relief package is well under development in the House, where democratic leaders are hoping to have this fifth package ready for consideration on May 4 when the House reconvenes. Democrats pushed for $150 billion for state and local governments in the package which just passed. This proposal was rejected, but it has been given a nod by the President and is expected to be a part of the next package. The Administration is looking at this infusion to state and local governments to address three top areas: infrastructure, tax cuts and bringing pandemic-related manufacturing back from China to the U.S.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is putting the breaks on another COVID relief bill.  He suggested that states consider declaring bankruptcy rather than being bailed out by the federal government. McConnell wants to press the pause button and is asserting that the Senate must physically convene to consider any future bill. (Past bills have been adopted by a procedure called unanimous consent which does not require the full convening of the Senate.) Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said “I do worry that the political honeymoon may be ending.”

Over the last couple of weeks education organizations have been submitting their priorities to Congress for the fifth COVID relief bill. A large coalition of K-12 organizations is asking for $200 billion, which would include $13 billion for IDEA, $12 billion for Title I and $2 billion for the E-rate to expand internet access for students as they work from home. The higher education community has requested $46.6 billion for colleges and for students. Higher education organizations are also requesting a range of adjustments for student loan repayment and borrowing terms.   

Learn more about the higher education request for student loan forbearance.

New Resources for Educators 

  • The American Federation of Teachers issued An Army of Temps, which found that found that nearly 25 percent of contingent and adjunct faculty at the nation’s colleges and universities rely on public assistance and 40 percent have trouble covering basic household expenses.
  • Ed Source reviews possible temporary changes for California’s teacher prep program requirements.

For more information, read the full Washington Update on my website. Follow me on Twitter @janewestdc.


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Jane E. West

AACTE Education Policy Consultant