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House Committee Moves Ahead With Additional Aid

February 11, 2021

The Democratic majority on the House education committee early Wednesday approved, along party lines, a coronavirus relief package that would include another $40 billion in aid to colleges and universities. The package sets the education and labor pieces of the $1.9 trillion proposal House Democrats are assembling to send to the Senate.

In a marathon meeting that began at 3 p.m. Tuesday and stretched until after 4 a.m. Wednesday, Democrats also beat back a slew of Republican amendments that would have denied emergency grants in the package to undocumented students, denied relief funds to institutions with partnerships with China and steered funding from those with large endowments to community colleges.

Democrats also voted down amendments offered by the committee’s top Republican, Virginia Foxx, to undo a provision in the bill that would strengthen the so-called 90-10 rule regulating for-profit institutions.

Republicans, including Foxx, criticized the Democrats' proposal as doing “more for the left-wing playbook than it does for struggling Americans.” Foxx said Democrats had not tried to reach a bipartisan compromise.

But committee chairman Bobby Scott said there wasn’t time. “We must address the urgent needs of the people now,” the Democrat from Virginia said.

Associations representing colleges and universities were disappointed the package includes far less than the $97 billion in aid they wanted. While the $40 billion would help, “we continue to stress that additional federal assistance, either now or in a future emergency relief measure, is needed to address the shattering impact of the pandemic on students and colleges and universities,” said American Council on Education president Ted Mitchell in a statement.

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