July 31, 2020

Cortez Masto Urges Senate to Reject Conditioning Federal Funds to Schools on Reopening In-Person

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), along with 28 of her Senate colleagues, in urging Senate leadership to reject the Trump Administration’s desire to condition education funds in the next coronavirus relief package on the reopening of elementary and secondary schools for in-person instruction. In a letter to Senate leadership, the Senators said that the Senate should not be complicit in President Trump’s demands that would risk the health and lives of students and school personnel, and that Congress should instead provide federal assistance to schools in need and support for local officials to base reopening decisions on facts and science.

“Instead, Congress should provide federal assistance to elementary and secondary schools that gives state and local officials the tools and resources they need to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for students, including students from low-income families and students of color, and a safe and effective working environment for educators and staff—whether it be in-person, remote, or a hybrid model,” the Senators wrote. “Every one of us wants schools to reopen when it is safe to do so.  But, facts and science must drive those decisions, not Presidential pipedreams or impatience.” 

The Senate Republican proposal, unveiled this week by McConnell, would provide only $70 billion to elementary and secondary education – with an estimated two-thirds of that federal funding held hostage unless schools reopen to in-person learning.  Durbin and other Senate Democrats, led by Senator Patty Murray of Washington, have proposed the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act, which would provide $175 billion to elementary and secondary education without regard to the operating status of schools. 

The full text of the letter can be found here.