AF Weekly Tip Sheet: COVID Policy and Advocacy (5/26)

Below is the latest America Forward “Tip Sheet,” a weekly update related to COVID-19 relief and recovery legislation.

Paycheck Protection Program Updates

This week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation changing the terms of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which have created obstacles for some small businesses/nonprofits seeking relief under the forgivable loan program. Democrats had already included most of the proposed tweaks to the loan program in the HEROES Act, which they passed last week. However, since the Senate is unlikely to bring up the HEROES Act, the House will move a separate standalone measure.  

The bill will address a few key issues: (1) extend the time businesses have to rehire employees and qualify for loan forgiveness under the program beyond the existing June 30 deadline; (2) extend beyond two years the period for paying back portions of the loans that are not forgiven; and (3) eliminate the “75-25” rule implemented by the White House that says businesses have to spend at least 75 percent of the loan on payroll costs and no more than 25 percent on other expenses like rent and utilities.  

Senate Small Business Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the architects of the PPP, has also been calling for a standalone bill to fix issues he sees with the program, including extending the eight-week timeframe for using the loans.  In an interview on Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated that he is supportive of extending the timeframe, but he has not officially endorsed the House proposal.  

Support for the Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools program

Last week, America Forward signed onto Higher Learning Advocate’s letter urging Congressional leaders to increase funding to $200 million for the Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) program, which “provides vital support for the participation and success of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of subsidized child care, which is widely recognized as one of the most important supports for parenting college students.” 

This program has become even more important amid the COVID-19 crisis, as students who are also parents, across the country, balance not only academic work, but also professional work and increased child care responsibilities as children remain home from school. CCAMPIS’s support for students in postsecondary settings meets a unique and critical need as this crisis continues to unfold – one that must continue to be funded. Read the full letter here

From the Coalition

Op-ed: What Almost Was and Still Needs to Be: A Lifeline to America’s Families and the Nation’s Future

Mark Reilly (Vice President of Policy & Government Relations) and Brittany Walsh (Senior Manager of Policy & Government Relations) from Jumpstart wrote in the Hill about the critical importance of support for child care services, both during and after the COVID-19 crisis, and the lack of sufficient funding included in the latest piece of COVID-19 relief legislation. They write, “absent more robust, targeted Child Care Stabilization or CCDBG funding, our nation is only delaying the inevitable—the further collapse of an essential industry that enables our nation’s economy.” Read the full piece here

Op-Ed: How Phones Can Facilitate Distance Learning

Dr. Beth Holland and Nate Kellogg from the Learning Accelerator write about the potential ways that mobile phones can be used to support learning during the COVID-19 crisis. According to Holland and Kellogg, mobile phones, which research shows are present in 96 percent of households, can be used to maintain lines of communication, share learning, and build community. Read their full piece here

Interview: Parent Involvement Has Always Mattered. Will The COVID-19 Pandemic Finally Make This The New Normal In K-12 Education?

Springboard Collaborative’s Founder and CEO Alejandro Gibes de Gac joined Forbes contributor Colin Steale for a conversation about the importance of parent involvement in children’s education, especially in the time of COVID-19. According to de Gac, “families living in poverty face intractable barriers that make it difficult to engage in their children’s education. The solution, however, can’t be to write parents off… Low-income families don’t need the education system’s pity; they need its support.” Read more from Alejandro’s interview here.

What’s Next 

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed their fourth large COVID-19 related bill – the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act); however, Senate leadership has said they do not intend to bring that bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Exact timing on any Senate action on a new bill is unclear, but we expect discussions between the House and Senate will really commence in June.  

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