Key committees approve components of COVID-19 package
Key components of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus and relief package advanced this week as they passed out of these House committees: Education and Labor, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Oversight and Reform. The next stop is the House floor the week of Feb. 22, and then the Senate. Democrats are pushing to pass the entire package by early to mid-March, when unemployment benefits again expire.
The package approved by House committees this week includes NEA’s top priorities: $170 billion in dedicated education funding to help advance the process of safely returning to in-person instruction at K-12 public school buildings, college campuses and universities; $350 billion in state and local aid to avoid further layoffs of educators and other essential public servants; and $7 billion to address an aspect of the digital divide known as the homework gap—the inability to do schoolwork at home due to lack of internet access—via the E-Rate program administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
NEA is also pushing to require all employers to provide paid sick leave for the duration of the pandemic. Sixty percent of U.S. workers do not have access to paid sick leave through their employers, including many education support professionals. TAKE ACTION
Cardona gets bipartisan support at confirmation hearing
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted to advance Dr. Miguel Cardona’s nomination for Secretary of Education by a vote of 17-5. During his confirmation hearing, Cardona stressed that “we must be able to reduce spread and contain the virus” to reopen school buildings safely. “If we really want to recover, we need to invest now,” he said, noting that President Biden’s COVID-19 package would make it possible to hire more teachers, school counselors, and expand summer programming. The full Senate is expected to confirm Cardona’s nomination before the month is out. TAKE ACTION
Biden’s executive orders: what they mean for educators and students
From day one, President Joe Biden has been working with educators to address the pandemic and systemic racism, aid our school communities, and support the labor movement across the country. Along with Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona, President Biden has made efforts to lift up educators’ voices in the White House and the Department of Education, providing more support than ever for educators, students, and families.
“Educators are encouraged not only by President Biden’s leadership, but also by knowing that there is finally a true partner in the White House who will prioritize students by working with educators in the decision-making process,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. READ MORE
Cheers and Jeers
Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the House Career and Technical Education Caucus, introduced a resolution honoring February as CTE Month.
Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) voted to confirm Dr. Miguel Cardona as Secretary of Education, along with all the Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted to confirm Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor, along with all the Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) offered a voucher amendment that would redirect federal funding from public to private schools via “education savings accounts” during the House Education and Labor Committee’s markup of COVID-19 relief legislation. It was defeated.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) reintroduced the Native American Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 505), which would create a voucher-like program for students who now attend schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education.
Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) proposed an amendment to the budget reconciliation bill that would expand 529-eligible expenses to include K-12 educational expenses. It was defeated
Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Braun (R-IN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Tim Scott (R-SC) opposed confirming Dr. Miguel Cardona as Secretary of Education.
Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) opposed confirming Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor.