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Congress Stalls in Developing Next COVID Relief Package

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.

COVID Relief Package Progress Stalled

The Congress is scheduled to go into recess in two weeks.  The election is about 100 days away.  The nation is in crisis.  Yet this week brought us a back and forth between the White House and Senate Republican leadership that yielded leaks of morsels about a proposed COVID relief package followed by retractions, clarifications and proclamations by individual Republican Senators that they have not seen any proposals nor been able to weigh in. Democrats are growing antsy—with two proposals on the table—HEROES Act in the House and  the Coronavirus Childcare and Education Relief Act in the Senate. they are ready to negotiate.  But no one is at the table yet.

A Senate Republican leadership bill was promised this week. A sketch of a proposal was leaked with the caveat that nothing had been finalized or agreed to. With Monday and Tuesday focused on honoring Rep. John Lewis in the Capitol, the business week will be short.  The promise of that August recess is looking dim. With the federal unemployment checks scheduled to end at the end of the month and 1 in 5 workers now collecting unemployment benefits, much is at stake. Educators in both higher education and K-12 are struggling to make decisions now about school openings with little clear guidance and no sure knowledge of when or if there will be additional federal support.

Senate Debates Funding for Re-opening Schools

Students wearing masks outside school building

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.

Action Expected in July on Next COVID Relief Bill: Education in the Crosshairs

Beginning next week, we expect to see the Senate take up the next COVID relief bill.  The House has passed their version of the bill and Senate Democrats have introduced their version of the bill, so the next move is up Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  His bill may be unveiled next week.

Education has become a high profile and contentious matter for this bill, as the president has determined that the economy cannot move forward unless schools are fully open in person so that parents and college employees (and workers in related businesses) can return to work in person. Multiple agendas are woven through this debate, which will become even more prominent as decisions are made about whether to apply conditions to any further COVID relief funding for education. 

Opening Schools in the Fall Is a Political Hot Potato

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.

U.S. Capital Rotunda

It’s been a busy — if not dizzying — week in DC – from movement on funding bills in the House to Trump Administration threats to withhold education funding and withdraw non-profit tax status from schools that do not fully open in the fall.  The rest of July will likewise be action packed and fraught as Congress sprints to the August recess. 

House Appropriations Subcommittee Adopts Education Funding Bill for FY 2021
On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations, chaired by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), adopted a spending bill for FY 2021, which begins October 1. 

Because the bill was required to stay within previously agreed upon budget caps, there were only modest increases for education. Overall, education spending was increased by 1.7%, or $1.2 billion, bringing federal education spending to a total of $73.5 billion.

Will Congress Provide Support to Reopen Schools During COVID-19?

Student and Teacher in classroom wearing masks

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.

Re-opening Schools During COVID-19:  Will the Federal Government Help?  

The topic of reopening schools is demanding attention at all levels of government—both for K-12 and higher education. The questions far outnumber the answers and the keywords seems to be flexibility and local decision-making. With governors, public health agencies, state and local school leaders, parents, and teachers all weighing in, the web of perspectives is complex. Finding a path to ensure public safety, equity and access to effective education is the challenge of the day. And finding the money to do what needs to be done—and in the midst of a polarizing election cycle—is looking like a herculean task.    

This week, the House Committee on Education and Labor held its second hearing related to education and the pandemic, Inequities Exposed: How COVID-19 Widened Racial Inequities in Education, Health and the Workforce.  In his testimony about education, John B. King Jr, president and CEO of the Education Trust, highlighted ongoing inequities in both K-12 and higher education and how COVID-19 has exacerbated them.  He urged the federal government to act and recommended the following provisions for the next COVID-19 relief bill:

Education Funding and Next COVID-19 Relief Bill: The HEROES Act

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

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.

Speaker Pelosi Unveils Next COVID-19 Relief Bill with a $3 Trillion Price Tag

The House of Representatives is in town and scheduled to vote late today on the next COVID-19 relief bill—dubbed the HEROES Act. Considered by many to be a messaging bill and the wish list of Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), it is not expected to receive Republican support.  Even so, a number of progressive Democrats believe it does not have enough relief and may vote no.  Likewise, there may well be a few Republicans who cross over to support it. 

The 1815 page bill includes almost $1 trillion to support state and local governments and another $100 billion for education. Key features include the following:

Congress Begins to Reconvene: What’s Next for COVID-19 Relief Funding?

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Financial aid concept, Life buoy lifebelt with money bagThis 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.

Senate Reconvenes in Person; House Next Week?

The Senate reconvened in person this week despite warnings from medical experts and despite the fact that the DC area remains a COVID-19 hot spot.  In order to enable this convening without it violating emergency limitations on large gatherings, the Mayor of DC—Muriel Bowser—anointed members of Congress as “essential workers,” bringing them into the ranks of grocery store workers and front line health care personnel.  

New to the Capitol were plexiglass shields, boxes of masks and hand sanitizer. COVID-19 testing for all Members was made available by President Trump, but in a rare bipartisan move declined by both House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). They recommended that the tests be prioritized for front line workers.

Next Step for Education Funding in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

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.

Implementation of CARES Act – Third COVID Relief Package

The Administration is moving to implement the massive $2 trillion COVID response bill (known now as COVID-3) which was enacted on Friday, March 27 . For education, this means $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund that includes:

  • $13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education (can be used for any activity authorized under major education laws including ESSA, IDEA, CTE and Homeless Education)
  • $14.25 billion for higher education; At least 50% is for emergency financial aid to students and expense related to the pandemic
  • $3 billion for governors to be used for emergency grants for the most affected local education agencies, institutions of higher education and those deemed essential to providing childcare, early childhood, K-12 or higher education services

How the $2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill Supports Education

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

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.

I am in awe of the incredible work of our colleague educators who are managing their ever-changing personal situations, while still stepping up to creatively deliver for our students.  And hats off to Hill staff who have worked relentlessly and around the clock to put this third COVID-19 response package together. 

Congress Will Pass Third COVID-19 Stimulus Bill with a Boost for Education

The frenzied activity on Capitol Hill has yielded the single largest funding bill in our nation’s history at $2 trillion.The 888 page bill—H.R. 748, the CARES Act—passed the Senate late Wednesday night with a vote of 96-0. (Four Senators were absent due to the virus, including Sen. Rand. Paul (R-KY) who has tested positive, and 3 others who are self-quarantining.) The House is looking to pass the bill today [Friday, March 27], hoping that a voice vote will work—meaning that no Member of the House would object. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the bill.

Third Federal Stimulus Package: Education Provisions

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

On March 25, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan third stimulus bill known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, aka the CARES Act. The U.S. House of Representatives will take up the measure on March 27, sending it to the president for his signature.  At this point in time, conversations are beginning on whether or not a fourth stimulus package is necessary.

Read the full CARES Act.

Read the Title-by Title Summary

The CARES Act includes the following  in regard to education:

Funding  

Education Stabilization Fund:  This includes flexible funding that will get out the door quickly and go directly to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to the coronavirus, including:

How Will COVID-19 Emergency Spending Bill Help Education?

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

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.

Washington Continues to Respond to the Coronavirus Epidemic

The Congress and federal agencies are likewise making changes by the moment. A 50,000 foot overview includes the following.

Legislative activity 

  • On March 6, Congress passed the first COVID-19 stimulus bill – an $8 billion package to help states and localities address the pandemic.
  • On March 18, Congress passed the second COVID-19 relief package, which ensures paid sick leave to certain employees, expands SNAP and Medicaid, and provides emergency assistance.
  • Congress is now considering the third COVID-19 relief package, a measure which will total between one and two trillion dollars and may address issues as far reaching as increases in unemployment insurance payments, financial assistance for hospitals and health care providers, a “state stabilization fund,” direct cash payments of $1,200 per qualified person, small business guaranteed loans, and billions in loans for industries, such as airlines. Provisions related to education are also on the menu, as described in the next article.

Washington Works to Address Coronavirus

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

COVID-19 Resources

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.

Congress is working to respond to the pandemic on multiple levels. To date seven members of Congress have announced that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are self-quarantining.  A staff member of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has tested positive for the virus and Sen. Cantwell has closed her office. The U.S. Capitol has ceased public tours, both those member and staff led. The Capitol complex, including House and Senate office buildings, is restricted to official business only.  Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) noted  “We should encourage people to not travel here right now.”  Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared the District a state of emergency and limited gatherings. Likewise, the Governors of Maryland and Virginia have declared states of emergency and limited gatherings.

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