Congress will not reconvene until at least April 20, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for a fourth emergency bill, which she argues should be focused upon expanded unemployment benefits, support for the healthcare industry, and support for state and local governments. While President Trump has also seemed to indicate some interest in additional stimulus, he has pointed towards infrastructure spending as being his preferred use of funds. In the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has said that talk of a fourth stimulus package is premature. He argues that the third bill should be allowed to work before Congress considers a fourth, but Senate Democratic committee staff initiated conversations this week with NSBA and other national groups about policy issues and funding that should be included in a fourth emergency bill, should Congress consider one later in the spring. NSBA also held conversations this week with Senate Education Chair Alexander’s staff and with staff from House Education Chairman Scott. In addition to talking with Congress about school district’s emergency needs, we are also talking with the Department of Education about quickly disbursing the CARES Act’s K-12 relief funds and properly exercising the new waiver authority available to interested school districts. NSBA is continuing its aggressive grassroots activities around getting additional funds and resources to support schools, directed funding to address the homework gap through E-Rate (see update below), and IDEA funding and flexibility.
The FCC extended key E-Rate program deadlines, including service implementation for special construction for all funding year 2019 applicants. The needed extensions, granted by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, aim to “alleviate administrative and compliance burdens on schools and libraries and enable them to focus on transitioning to remote learning during the pandemic.” NSBA is continuing to work with our national partners in the Education and Libraries Networks Coalition and the Future Ready Schools campaign to urge the FCC to use its emergency authority to enable the E-rate program and other Universal Service programs to help connect students and teachers displaced by the pandemic. We are also asking Congress to provide at least $2 billion of emergency funding to the E-Rate for home connectivity.
Secretary DeVos provided states with more time to submit long-term plans for implementing the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V). Secretary DeVos said recipients will still receive their Perkins V funds on time and states may also provide funding recipients additional time to complete their applications. States that are ready to submit their applications may still adhere to the previous deadline: April 15, 2020. If additional time is needed, they may submit their plans by June 15, 2020, and at the latest, September 15, 2020. States that submit plans in September will still receive funds in July, with a commitment from the state that the plan will be submitted on time in September. Further information on the new flexibilities can be found in this FAQ document.
The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) will host a webinar this Monday, April 6 at 3:15 p.m. (Eastern), entitled “How Congress is Interacting with Constituents During the Coronavirus Outbreak,” This webinar is exclusively for members of CMF’s Partnership for a More Perfection Union which includes NSBA. We encourage you to share the webinar information with your members. You can register for the webinar at the following link. Please identify the National School Boards Association as the association that invited the registrant to the webinar.
The webinar will include:
Live Interview with Congressional Staff: Congresswoman Donna Shalala’s District Director & Deputy Chief of Staff, Raul Martinez, Jr. has agreed to join the program. He will provide his perspective and advice on how advocacy groups should engage during this public health crisis.
Fresh CMF Research on Congress During COVID-19: While other groups may have recently invited you to attend webinars on virtual fly-in events, CMF’s is the only one based on a survey of congressional staff conducted since the Coronavirus compelled Congress to perform nearly all its work remotely.
The program will explore the following questions:
- What are the best ways for constituents to conduct virtual meetings and communicate with the congressional offices?
- Should advocates limit their efforts just to issues that are related to COVID-19?
- What should advocacy groups think about when deciding whether to conduct a virtual fly-in event?
- How can advocacy organizations get the best-possible return on their virtual fly-in investment?
- The webinar will be conducted by Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of CMF, and Seth Turner, Director of Citizen Engagement.