Last week, House Democrats brought a new version of the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act to the table that dedicated more funding for education and home internet. But President Trump sidelined the negotiations, declaring that he will not agree to a full relief package until after the presidential election.
After a series of tweets, President Trump left the American public in a state of confusion about if, and when, to expect any further coronavirus relief. As we covered in our last Federal Flash, House Democrats attempted to jump-start negotiations with the White House by passing an updated HEORES Act. The new bill has a lower price tag overall but provides $125 billion more education funding than the original proposal.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were continuing to negotiate behind the scenes, Trump tweeted that he would not agree to a new coronavirus relief package before the November election. In doing so, he ignored advice from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell who warned about the consequences of abandoning action to boost the economy. Shortly after, stocks tanked and several lawmakers urged the president to consider how cutting off negotiations could affect Republicans’ reelection prospects.
President Trump is now walking back from his hard line—raising the possibility of piecemeal relief bills, rather than the comprehensive approach that Pelosi and Mnuchin had been exploring. Taking to Twitter again, the president urged Congress to pass a bill with a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks and to approve additional aid for airlines and small businesses. However, Pelosi has expressed concern with the idea of passing individual COVID-19 bills and reiterated the importance of providing funds for state and local governments and for education.
Unfortunately, President Trump hasn’t highlighted aid to schools as part of any piecemeal solution, suggesting that additional funds for education will not be provided unless broad stimulus talks resume. Though the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided more than $13 billion to K–12 schools this spring, education leaders have said much more is needed to properly and safely educate students during the pandemic. Trump signaled his willingness to negotiate with Congress if he wins the presidential election but did not say what he plans to do otherwise. As always, we will keep you posted.
This blog post represents a slightly edited transcript of the October 9 episode of Federal Flash, All4Ed’s video series on important developments in education policy in Washington, DC. For an alert when the next episode of Federal Flash is available, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Hyslop is assistant director for policy development and government relations at All4Ed.