Coronavirus

Democrats, Republicans cannot agree on college funding in latest COVID help package deal

The COVID-19 aid plan might result in more cash for colleges

Democrats and Republicans each agree youngsters must be at school. Nonetheless, the worth tag for reopening colleges within the midst of a pandemic seems very completely different relying on whom you ask.

Now that the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has launched its steering on getting college students again to in-person studying, it’s as much as localities to take action safely — which Democrats mentioned requires extra funds.

The Senate is predicted to take up the Biden administration’s main COVID-19 aid laws within the coming days, following the passage within the Home of Representatives early Saturday morning, ABC Information beforehand reported, a plan that might result in more cash for colleges.

A part of the laws within the Home Democrats’ invoice contains practically $130 billion for colleges to make sure a secure return to the classroom. These funds can go towards issues like enhancing air flow methods, shopping for private protecting gear, and implementing social distancing, based on the Home Training and Labor committee. Moreover, colleges are required to save lots of no less than 20% of the cash they’re granted particularly to handle studying loss.

“There’s one other factor that we’re attempting to get performed, not solely do we have to open the colleges, we’re asking them to do extra than simply open the colleges, we’re asking them to make up for misplaced floor,” Home Training and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, D-Va., mentioned on Friday forward of the invoice’s passage.

“Which will require summer season college prolonged days and every thing else, which suggests they’re gonna need to be spending greater than they had been spending earlier than. And that takes more cash,” he added.

However Republicans have argued that that is an unnecessarily steep price for colleges that already acquired two rounds of coronavirus funding, particularly contemplating the cash isn’t straight tied to colleges reopening.

“They’re saying they wish to cross over $100 billion of latest cash that is not even tied to colleges reopening,” Home Minority Whip Steve Scalise beforehand mentioned on ABC Information’ “This Week.”

“Let’s goal the cash, however this concept that Washington must be giving out $100-plus billion of latest cash to colleges and never even requiring them to reopen — that is an insult to these youngsters who’re demanding they return to highschool,” Scalise mentioned.

Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky additionally pushed again in opposition to the massive sum of aid cash, arguing final month that there have been billions of {dollars} “within the pipeline already.”

A gaggle of a number of schooling teams final week despatched a letter to members of Congress addressing this level, and mentioned the cash that was already issued has been “budgeted.”

“We’re conscious of the incorrect notion that colleges are usually not in want of extra funding due to the reported ‘spend’ fee of federal funding so far,” the letter from teams, together with academics unions and the superintendents affiliation, learn.

“In conversations with our respective memberships, they report that whereas the ‘spend fee’ could seem fairly low to these unfamiliar with state and district college monetary procedures and necessities, they’ve budgeted for each greenback they’re scheduled to obtain from the COVID aid payments and are nonetheless anticipating extra important prices they are going to be unable to fulfill with out extra federal funds.”

Scott reiterated this level on Friday: “The truth that the cash has not been spent doesn’t imply that it hasn’t all been obligated,” he mentioned.

ABC Information’ Cheyenne Haslett contributed to this report.

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