House Passes Pandemic Recovery Bill; CDC Issues New Guidance for Higher Ed

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

House Passes $2.2 Trillion Recovery Legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives passed pandemic recovery support legislation (H.R. 8406). Though it is unlikely to become law in its current form, this legislation serves as a benchmark for Democrats in negotiations with the Trump administration and Senate Republicans. Democratic leaders said they wanted to outline their negotiating priorities and show how $2.2 trillion could be put to effective use. The legislation includes another round of stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits and money for schools, healthcare and state and local governments. The legislation would dedicate $225 billion for education, including $182 billion for K-12 schools and nearly $39 billion for postsecondary education. The bill would add $208 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which would include $175 billion for elementary and secondary schools, $27 billion for public postsecondary education, and $4 billion for governors to address educational needs across their states. It would also include $11.9 billion to higher education, including $3.5 billion for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, $7 billion for private, nonprofit institutions, and $1.4 billion for other institutions including those that offer programs exclusively through distance education. The bill would also make some changes and extensions to provisions passed under the CARES Act. College students who are dependents could be counted for direct payments. The legislation would extend the student loan payment and interest pause through Sept. 30, 2021. The House bill would also expand the loan relief to the borrowers with non-federally held student loans under the old bank-based system. Other provisions that would impact schools include $75 billion for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures. The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive $2.9 billion, including $2.6 billion for research and related activities and $300 million for education and human resources to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus. The text of legislation can be found here. A one-pager on the legislation is here and a section-by-section summary can be found here.

CDC Issues New Testing Guidance for Colleges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 testing guidance for colleges, giving more guidance on how to test during an outbreak. The new guidance advises more widescale testing of students, faculty and staff when they arrive on campus, while previous guidance had not advised entry testing. The new guidance says “with frequent movement of faculty, staff and students between the IHE [institution of higher education] and the community, a strategy of entry screening combined with regular serial testing might prevent or reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission.” Read more from Inside Higher Ed here.

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 Oct. 5, 2020. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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