Federal Relations

July 29, 2020

Let the Negotiations Begin

It turns out that the COVID relief package that the Senate Republicans released yesterday is made up of eight separate bills, with each one attempting to address a different aspect of the relief and recovery effort.  They range from a supplemental appropriations bill that would provide funding to myriad agencies and programs to policy bills aimed at issues like student loan repayment plans and tax credits for employers who retain workers, and everything in between.

Here are some of the most relevant provisions to UW from the various bills unveiled yesterday:

  • $105 billion for education programs, of which $29.1 billion would be for higher education institutions around the country.  Allocations would be based on formulas that are pegged to the full-time equivalent enrollments of Pell students  Institutions would have more control over how their allocations would be used
  • Students taking out new federal student loans would see a consolidation of repayment options, from the current list of nine programs down to two:  1) standard 10-year repayment program; 2) income-dependent plan that would cap repayment at 10% of disposable income.  If a borrower’s income is less than 150% above the poverty line, no repayment would be required.
  • On the research side, NIH would see more than $10 billion in research support, with $240 million dedicated to extending grants and traineeships for young researchers.  Funds going to other research agencies are primarily for activities directly related to COVID-19 and not directed towards research support.
  • The package also includes additional funding for hospitals and health care providers.
  • While Democrats have sought further direct support for states and cities, the Republican package does not include any new funding but would provide further flexibility on how already provided funds could be spent.

Unlike the House-passed bill that clocks in at $3 trillion, the Senate package totals approximately $1 trillion.  Even at that lower cost figure, there appears to be enough opposition within the Republican caucus over its cost at this point that is causing some heartburn for its leadership.  With some internal grumbling and a number of relief programs scheduled to end soon, like the enhanced unemployment checks and rent and mortgage assistance, as backdrop, the Republican leadership has started negotiations with the House and the White House.  How long the negotiations will take remains to be seen.