$1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill Clears House, with Senate Likely to Nix Minimum Wage Increase

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

House Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill. The U.S. House passed $1.9 trillion pandemic relief legislation, the American Rescue Plan Act (HR 1319), by a vote of 219 to 212. The bill would authorize direct payments to households, extend unemployment insurance benefits and provide funding to states and localities, schools, transit systems, restaurants, vaccine distribution and virus testing. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate next week, which is expected to make changes including removing a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 to comply with the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules. The bill includes $130 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and $40 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. It also includes $39 billion for childcare and $1 billion for Head Start. See what is currently included in the Labor and Education portion of the package here. Higher Ed Dive reports that the bill also contains a change to the 90/10 rule.

Ed Dept Announces Appointees. The U.S. Department of Education announced additional Biden administration appointees to positions in the department. Jordan Matsudaira, an associate professor of economics and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, was named deputy under secretary, and Clarence “CJ” Powell was named a special assistant in the Office of Postsecondary Education. James Kvaal was named under secretary of education, reports Inside Higher Education.

Ed Dept Encouraging Use of Expanded SNAP Eligibility for Students. The Education Department issued guidance to postsecondary institutions to inform them about temporarily expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility for students. As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December, institutions have the authority to adjust financial aid packages to account for students’ and families’ current financial circumstances.

New Guidance on Assessing Student Learning. The Education Department released guidance on how states should assess student learning during the pandemic. The guidance encourages flexibility and the use of data as a source of information to target resources and support, rather than for accountability purposes.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week Congress is in session featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of March 1, 2021. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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