Advocacy & Policy Update - April 20, 2020



Congressional Schedule

On Tuesday, April 14, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) announced that the House has decided not to return today, April 20, as originally scheduled. Lawmakers were advised that they will likely convene on Monday, May 4, unless there is an emergency that requires them to return. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate also does not plan a return to Washington before May 4. Both chambers are holding pro forma sessions.

Higher Education Act Reauthorization

Back in February, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (TN) expressed optimism at the annual Community College Legislative Summit that the committee would reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) this year. Many Republicans on the committee shared his optimism and felt a deal was so close that Alexander could schedule a vote in the near future. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened - creating a public health crisis, shuttering businesses, and keeping lawmakers off the Hill - which delayed action on any possible reauthorization. Hopes of a deal and committee vote have pretty much been dashed as full attention has now turned to stimulus packages and helping workers and businesses merely survive.

Career and Technical Education

On Tuesday, April 14, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that career and technical education (CTE) programs can donate or loan medical supplies purchased with federal funds to help with the coronavirus response effort - many of which buy supplies through federal grant programs for hands-on instruction. The guidance allows CTE programs to donate unused equipment to public health agencies, private nonprofit hospitals and other licensed health providers.

Click here to read the full guidance.

Unemployment Claims

On Thursday, April 16, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)  Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that Americans filed 5.2 million jobless claims in the week ending April 11, pushing the total for the past four weeks above 22 million. That erases nearly as many jobs as were created during the decade-long recovery period from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Economists say unemployment may now exceed 15 percent, which would be the highest since the Great Depression in the 1930s. As of March 28, about half of unemployment claims were approved and by April 4 that figure had risen to between 60-69 percent. 

Click here to read the DOL BLS report.

Click here to read the full April 20 weekly legislative update

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