Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Moves to the President’s Desk
On Friday, November 5, the House approved (228-206) the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R.3684). Thirteen Republicans voted for the bill with six Democrats voting against it. The bill includes $65 billion to expand broadband access, $55 billion to upgrade water infrastructure, including $200 million allocated to eliminate lead contamination in schools, and $5 billion for clean-energy school buses. The measure also reauthorizes and extends, until 2023, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, which helps schools in 700 counties that have federal forest land. President Biden is scheduled to sign the bill on Monday, November 15, alongside leaders from both parties.
House Expected to Consider Build Back Better Package Next Week
House Speaker Pelosi plans to begin debate next week on the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better (BBB) package, which includes over $400 billion for universal pre-K and childcare program, $300 million for Emergency Connectivity Fund, and hundreds of millions for teacher recruitment and retention, school leadership, and more. However, five Democrats have signaled that without further information from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about the bill’s cost, they may not vote in favor of the package. Democratic leaders suggested this week that CBO may provide high level estimates next week to address these concerns, even though the detailed estimates may require more time.
Complicating Congress’s work on BBB, temporary government funding approved by Congress in September is scheduled to expire only three weeks from today (December 3). Congress may need to pass another temporary funding bill to keep the government’s doors open and provide appropriators more time to negotiate a final budget for fiscal year 2022.
Senate Panel to Hold Confirmation Hearing for FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel
On November 17, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing to consider the President’s nomination of FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel to continue serving at the agency. Unless the Senate approves her nomination before the end of the year, Rosenworcel will be forced to step down from the agency no later than January 3, 2022. Members of both parties have expressed support for Rosenworcel, so NSBA expects her nomination to be approved when Congress returns from the Thanksgiving Recess. The committee has not yet scheduled the confirmation hearings for the president’s other FCC nominee, Gigi Sohn, or for the nominee to lead the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Vaccination Support Requested by Secretaries
On Monday, November 8, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona & Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to school principals asking for assistance with several key components to getting children vaccinated. The letter requested leaders assist by: 1) hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at their school, 2) distribute vaccine information to all families with children ages five to eleven, and 3) hold conversations with school communities on the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 Vaccinations Available for Children 5-11 -- Resources
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that COVID-19 vaccinations are now available for children ages 5-11, the administration estimates that approximately 900,000 children received their first dosage of the vaccine as of Wednesday, Nov. 10. According to administration officials, more than 700,000 appointments are currently available at local pharmacies.
On Monday, November 8, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona & Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to school principals asking for assistance with several key components to getting children vaccinated. The letter requested leaders assist by: 1) hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at their school, 2) distribute vaccine information to all families with children ages five to eleven, and 3) hold conversations with school communities on the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided a “Guide to Hosting COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics at School.”
For further information about the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for pediatric populations, please see the following information:
- COVID-19 Vaccination for Children 5 through 11 Years Old: Information for Jurisdictions, Healthcare Providers, Pharmacists, Schools, and Community Partners.
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens.
FEMA Public Assistance Webinar Scheduled Nov. 17
For school districts that may be preparing to host on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinics, funding and resources are available through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) fund, as well as reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These funds can help cover the costs of hosting a clinic, including onsite set-up and operations as well as outreach and engagement activities.
To provide details about its reimbursement process, FEMA will be hosting a webinar Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m. (EST). This is an opportunity to ask FEMA directly about its public assistance and reimbursement process. Here is the link to participate https:/fema.zoomgov.com/j/1604866652.
FCC Announces Fourth Wave of ECF funding
On Monday, November 8, the FCC announced the fourth wave of funding commitments totaling over $421 million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. To date, the FCC and USAC have committed over $3.05 billion in program funding to school and library applicants and exceeded the stated goal of issuing funding commitment decision letters for 70 percent of all applications within 100 days of the closing of the first filing window. With the first four waves, the FCC and USAC are providing support for over 6.8 million connected devices and over 3.5 million broadband connections to support 6,954 schools, 613 libraries, and 80 consortia. The FCC and USAC will continue to quickly review applications and will be issuing additional funding commitment decisions on a rolling basis in the coming weeks.
- H.R.5919 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) To amend the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to improve the child and adult care food program, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Bonamici, Suzanne [D-OR-1]
- Courtesy of NSBA's Federal Advocacy & Public Policy Update - Week of November 11, 2021