Additional COVID-19 Aid Out of Reach Until After Election Day

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter 

The months-long slog of back and forth negotiations for additional coronavirus relief aid between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, while still narrowing, will not come to fruition, if they do at all, until after election day. 

The Senate, having confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court late on Monday evening, does not have its next vote scheduled until November 9 — which means the chamber is effectively on recess until after the election. So, even if the White House and Democrats arrive at an agreed-upon aid deal, its consideration would not happen for at least two weeks.

Following the presidential election, now less than a week out, Congress could choose to try to tackle additional pandemic-related aid as a standalone measure, with the topline numbers being heavily influenced by the election results, or kick consideration for further aid to the new Congress that would be sworn in at the end of January.

Another option for the impending lame duck session would be to tie additional aid to an upcoming December 11 spending deadline. That measure is the final piece of legislation that needs to be passed before the end of the session in order to either complete the budget cycle for fiscal year 2021 or stave off a government shutdown by instituting a new deadline through a continuing resolution.

House Democrats earlier this month passed a revised version of their Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which set aside $208 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, 13% of which (or $27 billion) must go to public institutions of higher education and will be distributed by governors. Another $11.9 billion will go directly to institutions, including $3.5 billion for minority-serving institutions, $7 billion for private nonprofit institutions, and $1.4 billion for public and nonprofit institutions with unmet need, including those that operate entirely online.

 

Publication Date: 10/28/2020


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