EdAction in Congress

EdAction in Congress October 4, 2020

GOP refuses to let voters choose next Supreme Court justice

Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has expressed misgivings about many vital rights and protections, including stare decisis—the rule that the Supreme Court should follow its own prior decisions, even when a justice disagrees with them. That is grave cause for concern, especially since Barrett’s record shows she is likely to:

  • Support overturning the Affordable Care Act. Barrett has openly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law. The Court will revisit that decision on Nov. 10, when it hears a case that could lead to overturning the entire law. If that happens, 21 million Americans will lose health coverage, premiums will skyrocket for the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps on coverage will return, and children will be kicked off their parents’ health plans before age 26.
  • Support limiting workers’ tools to fight employment discrimination. Barrett joined an opinion that says the Age Discrimination in Employment Act applies only to current employees, not job applicants.
  • Oppose holding students accused of sexual assault and harassment accountable. In a lawsuit against Purdue University, a student claimed that disciplining him for sexual misconduct violated his Title IX and constitutional rights. Barrett allowed the suit to proceed.
  • Support denying procedural protections for immigrants. Barrett dissented when the court blocked Department of Homeland Security “public charge” regulations that make it more difficult for people to obtain green cards and become U.S. citizens. 
  • Oppose common-sense protections against gun violence. Barrett does not support prohibiting all convicted felons from owning guns.

Next week, the Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on Barrett. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) plans to confirm her nomination before Election Day, even though a dozen polls have found the majority of Americans want to wait. Like NEA, they say the winners of the 2020 elections, which are already underway, should choose and confirm the next Supreme Court justice. TAKE ACTION

Senate majority continues to block COVID-19 relief

In a mostly party-line vote of 214-207, the House passed an updated HEROES Act that includes a dramatic $225 increase in school funding, an additional $12 billion to help narrow the digital divide and close the homework gap, $436 billion in aid for states and localities, and $75 billion for coronavirus testing, tracing, and treatment. Discussions between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the White House continue, but significant gaps remain.

The updated HEROES Act fulfills key NEA goals: at least $175 billion to stabilize education funding and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and educators and at least $4 billion in emergency funding to close the homework gap during the pandemic. As many as 16 million students—roughly 1 in 3—are unable to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access and devices. A disproportionate share of those students are Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and live in rural areas or low-income households. Additional relief for student loan borrowers is also among NEA’s top priorities. TAKE ACTION

Still time to be counted in 2020 Census

Thanks to a federal judge, the Census Bureau may have the time it needs to provide a complete and accurate count—until Oct. 31 to gather information and until April 2021 to deliver the results. The administration has pushed the Census Bureau to rush the job—stop counting by Oct. 5 and deliver results by Dec. 31—and is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court to get its way, which will take some time. For now, the court has ordered the Census Bureau to continue the head count. Truncating the census would deprive many communities and schools—especially those with large Black and Hispanic populations—of billions of dollars in federal aid, as well as political representation. If you haven’t already, be sure to complete the census questionnaire.

Trump and DeVos have failed students and educators on COVID-19

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have threatened to withhold funding from our nation’s public schools, hindered the ability of students to be safe in classrooms and on campuses, and furthered discriminatory practices that are detrimental to productive learning environments. Scroll through this timeline to see how Trump and DeVos have left students and educators in the dark during the coronavirus pandemic, and what former Vice President Joe Biden is doing to step up and lead.

Cheers and Jeers

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) introduced the Protecting Our Students in Schools Act (H.R. 8460), which would prohibit corporal punishment in schools.


Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) introduced the Supporting Teachers with Residency Opportunities and New Grants (STRONG) Act, which would support educator pipeline programs like teacher residencies.

Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Haley Stevens (D-MI) led 20 of their colleagues in a letter asking CDC Director Robert Redfield to begin collecting and publishing data to track the spread of COVID-19 in schools and help develop best practices for safely reopening schools for in-person classes.

Led by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), all 11 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a letter protesting the rush to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. 

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have announced they will not meet privately with Judge Barrett because doing so would legitimize rushing to replace Justice Ginsburg when the Senate should instead be rushing to provide COVID-19 relief. 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) gave an eloquent and impassioned speech about everything that’s wrong with the GOP’s rush to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by Justice Ginsburg’s death.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Keeping Schools Safe Act, which authorizes the Secretary of Education to award $1 billion in grants to improve indoor air quality in schools using proven technologies—like air filtration, ventilation, and air purification—to help limit the spread of the COVID-19.

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