Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

Senate Divided over Next Round of Stimulus Funding

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) sought unanimous consent to approve an additional $250 billion for emergency aid for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). He said the request was based on the huge number of applications filed for PPP funding since the program started approximately a week ago. Senate Democrats objected to the Majority Leader’s request based on a desire to match his requested PPP funding with an additional $250 billion for hospitals, minority businesses, and other uses. The disagreement forced both sides to withdraw their proposals until early next week when emergency spending negotiations are expected to resume.

Earlier this week, NSBA joined a number of other national K-12 groups in asking Congress to provide an additional $200 billion for K-12 education relief to help offset declining local and state revenues and meet other related student and school needs through Title I, IDEA, and the E-rate program. We intend to continue urging Congress to provide these needed resources as part of the nextemergency bill, but the request may not be considered until the CARES Act’s emergency K-12 funds are distributed by the Department of Education to state and local education agencies.

Administration Update

U.S. Ed Application for K-12 Emergency Relief Fund Application Still in Limbo    

The CARES Act, which became law 13 days ago, provided the Department of Education with 30 days to publish the application for the K-12 emergency relief fund. The department intends to release the K-12 application as quickly as possible, but senior agency staff are also simultaneously working on distribution of the governor’s emergency relief fund and the post-secondary relief fund. The post-secondary fund has two components; one element focused on students and a second element focused on institutions. The department announced on Thursday that it was releasing $6 billion of the higher education fund for the student component, based on a required certification by participating institutions that the funding would be used for allowable purposes. Although the department has not announced a specific schedule for releasing the other education relief program programs, Secretary DeVos said on Thursday the department would offer additional information about the $13.5 billion for K-12 schools “in the coming days.”  

USDA Seeks Applications for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

The Department of Agriculture announced a second application window for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. Applications for the second window may be submitted through grants.gov beginning April 14, 2020, and are due no later than July 13, 2020. The agency said, “Access to distance learning and telemedicine makes it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances or be among large groups of people.” Rural Development was provided an additional $25 million in the CARES Act for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. USDA will make a separate announcement in coming weeks when these funds are available.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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