E-Update for the Week of April 13, 2020
- On April 9, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced the distribution of $6 billion in CARES Act funding to postsecondary institutions.
- On April 9, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a motion to increase the total funding of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), authorized by the recently passed CARES Act. The Majority Leader sought unanimous consent on the measure but Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) opposed the measure.
- On April 4, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a Dear Colleague Letter informing members of her priorities for a fourth coronavirus virus relief package, referred to as “CARES 2.” According to the letter, the Speaker intends to bring a new package to the House floor by the end of the month.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of 4:00 pm on April 10, 2020. Given the fast-moving nature of congressional and Administrative actions to address the growing pandemic, we will do our best to update this information as quickly as possible.
Senate in stalemate over adding new CARES Act funding for small business loan program: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced a motion to increase the total funding of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), authorized by the recently passed CARES Act. The Majority Leader’s measure would have increased the authorized funding for PPP to $600 billion, an increase of $250 billion. The Majority Leader sought unanimous consent on the measure but Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) opposed the measure, which was supported by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Instead, Senator Van Hollen proposed an alternative measure to provide $250 billion for PPP, $100 billion for hospitals and health centers, and $150 billion for state and local government funding – a total increase of $500 billion. The Democratic measure was opposed by the Majority Leader. The floor remarks from Majority Leader McConnell are here.
April 9, 2020
Senate Democrats propose $25,000 salary increase for frontline coronavirus “Heroes”: Senate Democrats released a proposal to increase pay for essential workers, titled the “Heroes Fund.” The proposal includes a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers, which would be retroactive to the start of the national emergency through December 31, 2020. Additionally, the proposal would offer a $15,000 essential worker recruitment bonus. “Essential frontline workers sacrifice daily for our collective health and well-being, and Senate Democrats are fully committed to supplying these heroes the financial support they deserve,” stated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). According to a Senate Democrats’ summary of the proposal, the “Heroes Fund” would be targeted toward health care workers, home care workers, first responders, grocery store workers, transit workers, and “more who are central to fighting this crisis.” A summary of the bill is here. A press release is here.
April 7, 2020
Pelosi seeks to release fourth coronavirus relief package by end of April, focus on small businesses, additional direct payments: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a Dear Colleague Letter informing members of her priorities for a fourth coronavirus virus relief package, referred to as “CARES 2.” The Speaker outlines that the House must “double down on the down-payment” made in the CARES Act and expand new legislation to assist small businesses, strengthen unemployment benefits, and give families additional direct payments. The Speaker goes on to further outline priorities of providing resources to state and local governments, hospitals, community health centers, health systems and health workers, first responders, and other providers “on the frontlines of this crisis.” According to the letter, the Speaker intends to bring a new package to the House floor by the end of the month. The full letter is here.
April 4, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED gets first half of higher education relief money out the door, institutions to provide direct grants to students: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced the distribution of $6 billion in CARES Act funding to postsecondary institutions. The funding, which is included as part of the higher education relief fund in the CARES Act, is intended for institutions to provide direct emergency cash grants to students who have been impacted by the coronavirus. Students, as authorized by the CARES Act, would be able to use their grants to cover expenses related to course materials and technology, food, housing, health care, and child care. Institutions are able to determine which students receive the grants, but the Department urges institutions to prioritize students with the greatest need. Further, the Department asks that if institutions determine their students do not have significant needs, the institutions consider giving their allocation to other institutions within the state or region who might have more significant needs. Additionally, the Department mentions that it is working “at the Secretary’s urging” to quickly make funds available from the elementary and secondary education relief fund as well. A press release is here. A letter from the Department to institution leaders is here. Institution-level funding allocations are here. A statement from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
April 9, 2020
DeVos opens one-day waiver process for states seeking fiscal flexibilities to use existing funding for coronavirus response efforts: USED Secretary DeVos announced a streamlined waiver process for states to seek funding flexibilities afforded to them within the CARES Act. The waivers would allow schools to repurpose some existing elementary and secondary education funding for technology infrastructure, teacher training, and “other flexibilities.” Specifically, state leaders may request a waiver of Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requirements removing the 15 percent carryover limitation; Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend the ability to use prior fiscal year funding; Title IV, Part A of ESEA to waive the needs assessment requirement; Title IV, Part A of ESEA to waive the content-specific spending requirements; Title IV, Part A of ESEA to waive spending restrictions on technology infrastructure; and the ESEA definition of “professional development.” States can submit a waiver with the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and will receive a response from the Department within one business day. A press release is here. The waiver is here.
April 6, 2020
Non-Coronavirus Related Updates:
Trump sends nomination for new USED Inspector General to Senate: The White House announced the nomination of Andrew Mello to serve as Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Education (USED). Mello currently serves as a trial attorney within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Tax Division. The announcement is here.
April 6, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED awards over $65 million in new Charter Schools grants: USED announced the grantees of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Charter Schools Program Grants. The Department awarded 13 new awards totaling $65.4 million. According to the Department, over 95 percent of the funding will go towards public charter schools in Qualified Opportunity Zones. A press release and list of grantees are here.
April 6, 2020
A bill to establish a grant program that provides grants to expand broadband service.
Sponsor: Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA)
A bill to provide funding for needed child and adult care so that essential workers can report to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsor: Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
Upcoming events (Congressional and Administration):
- Both the Senate and the House are in recess until April 20. As of now, it is expected that both chambers would return to session on that date; however, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has said that can be adjusted depending on what is in the best interest of members’ safety.
- On April 29, the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee could hold a markup of its fiscal year (FY) 2021 Labor/HHS appropriations bill. Prior to the recent crisis, this possible date was circulated; however, it is unclear if the Subcommittee will move forward on this date.
- On May 13, the House Appropriations Committee could hold a markup of the FY2021 House Labor/HHS appropriations bill. Prior to the recent crisis, this possible date was circulated; however, it is unclear if the Subcommittee will move forward on this date.
- On June 15, states must submit their three-year Perkins CTE state plans. States previously submitted their one-year transition plans. More information is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On April 15 at 2:00 pm, New America will hold an event titled, “Making Advising and Student Supports Accessible for Students in the COVID-19 Crisis.” The webinar will focus on the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) program and will include leaders of several TAACCCT grants who will share guiding principles for community colleges to adapt to a virtual environment. More information and registration are here.