EdAction in Congress

EdAction March 15, 2020

Children and families impacted by the coronavirus need help NOW

By a vote of 363-40, the House of Representatives passed on March 14 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) to help children and families impacted by the coronavirus. NEA sent a letter to House members supporting the legislation last week. (Click here to find out more about K-12 school closures across the nation.)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act is a good initial step to help working families while members of Congress consider additional measures to confront the public health, educational, and financial fallout of the pandemic. Key provisions of H.R. 6201 include:

  • Free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test, including the uninsured.
  • Paid emergency leave, with both 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.
  • Enhanced Unemployment Insurance—a first step that will extend protections to furloughed workers.
  • Strengthened food security initiatives, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), student meals, seniors’ nutrition, and food banks.
  • Increased federal funds for Medicaid to help states face increased costs. 

Now that the House has acted, email your senators that children and families need immediate help!

10 Republicans join Democrats in voting to halt DeVos’ anti-student initiative

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her pro-privatization, anti-student agenda were rebuked on March 11 when a bipartisan Senate majority blocked her efforts to gut protections for student borrowers and taxpayers in her revision of the “borrower defense” rule.

“Today’s bipartisan vote in the Senate is a victory for students and shows, once again, just how out of touch Betsy DeVos’ agenda is with the American people,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

Ten Republican senators joined Democratic senators in voting 53 to 42 for S.J. Res. 56, which overturns the Department of Education’s revision of the 30-year-old Borrower Defense to Repayment rule. When predatory for-profit colleges have defrauded students with false promises, it is the borrower defense rule that enables students to have their federal loans canceled or forgiven. READ MORE

Cheers and Jeers

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act which would  provide resources to help schools plan for closures, ensure early childhood programs stay in operation, provide emergency financial aid for college students in need of food and housing, and take other steps to support students and educators.

Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced the Ensuring Emergency Food Security Act, which would temporarily increase and expand Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to combat economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and James Comer (R-KY) introduced the bipartisan COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act to protect students’ access to school meal benefits during school closures.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA) wrote the first in a new series of columns in Essence magazine, “In Her We Trust;” the column discusses the importance of black women in politics and the stakes in the 2020 elections.

Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Josh Hawley (R-MO),  Martha McSally (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Todd Young (R-IN) joined their Democratic colleagues in supporting the congressional resolution opposing the revised “borrower defense” rule proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called H.R. 6201 an “ideological wish list,” while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) condemned H.R. 6201 because it “forces permanent paid sick leave for all businesses without exemptions and no sunsets.”

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