WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Democrats blocked an amendment introduced by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to improve the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program.
The EANS program allows schools to receive reimbursement for expenses incurred over the past year to combat the pandemic. The program requires states to prioritize schools that serve low-income students. Reimbursable expenses include disinfectant supplies, educational technology, leased spaces to ensure social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE), etc.
The amendment sought to replicate the terms and conditions of a second round of EANS funding as enacted in law by the bipartisan December COVID package. Unfortunately, the $1.9 trillion bill disqualifies private and parochial schools who previously qualified, but do not have a high enough percentage of low income students to meet the bill’s new, arbitrary threshold, regardless of need.
“The December COVID relief package supported public, private, and parochial schools,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Republicans and Democrats gave flexibility so as many schools as possible could use the funding and cover COVID-related expenses. Why can’t we do that now?”
“Private and parochial schools—like all schools—have been affected by the pandemic, yet this bill denies them substantial aid. I am disappointed my Democrat colleagues have once again prioritized special interests and their labor bosses over hundreds of thousands of our nation’s students,” said Senator Scott.
“Democrats are playing politics with our students’ education by blocking this amendment,” said Senator Tillis. “Instead of supporting low income students from private and parochial schools, they’re sending billions to public teacher unions.”