Democratic leaders push for bipartisan COVID-19 compromise
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are working toward a bipartisan compromise to address the rampant spread of COVID-19 that is preventing the safe reopening of our schools and our society. The effort took on new urgency earlier this week, as Congress tried to complete its work for 2020 and a bipartisan group of senators released a framework.
The framework would provide significantly less than legislation passed by the House, but could help break the eight-month logjam in the Senate that has denied millions of Americans the help and support they so desperately need. “In light of the urgency of meeting the needs of the American people and the hope that the vaccine presents, it’s time for Leader McConnell to sit down with Democrats to finally begin a true, bipartisan effort to meet the needs of the country,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) failed to embrace the compromise even as it gained support among Republican senators. Instead, he circulated a new plan much like one that previously failed to advance, stressing the need to secure the support of lame-duck President Trump.
Pressure for Congress to act continues to mount as U.S. coronavirus cases approach 14 million, the death toll nears 300,000, and working families reach the breaking point. The pain and suffering will further increase at year’s end due to the expiration of previously enacted relief measures—among them, the suspension of student loan payments, a nationwide moratorium on evictions, and enhanced unemployment benefits.
Key NEA goals for a coronavirus package include at least $175 billion to stabilize education funding and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for students and educators plus at least $12 billion in emergency funding for the established E-rate program to narrow the digital divide and close the homework gap (16 million students are unable to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access, devices, or both). NEA priorities also include relief for student loan borrowers, support for child health and nutrition, economic help for those facing hunger and homelessness, paid sick leave, and state and local aid to avoid laying off educators, firefighters, and other essential public servants. TAKE ACTION
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will chair the House Appropriations Committee in the 117th Congress that officially begins Jan. 3.
Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) introduced the Rural Revitalization Act to provide up to $50,000 in student loan relief for people who commit to living and working in rural communities for at least eight years. Co-sponsor Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY) committed to reintroducing the legislation in 117th Congress, ensuring continued consideration in coming days.