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APLU COVID-19-Related Advocacy Efforts

As the United States federal government continues working to address both the public health and economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the APLU Office of Governmental Affairs team is working to provide timely analysis and advocacy tools to support our nation's public research universities. APLU staff are closely monitoring the federal response and working with congressional leaders, agency officials, and the higher education community to develop emergency funding measures and policy solutions to meet the needs of our members.

Congress has been working on a Phase IV COVID-19 relief bill since Spring 2020, but thus far have not been able to reach agreement on additional emergency spending. APLU staff have developed a federal advocacy priorities document outlining the critical needs of colleges and universities. The top line emergency funding requests include:

Additionally, APLU staff have worked with a range of partners in the higher education community to respond to other funding and policy issues that have arisen from the spread of COVID-19. You can find a full list of these resources here.

COVID-19 Federal Response Analysis

On May 12, 2020, House Democrats introduced the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The massive $3+ trillion package would provide relief for state and local governments, healthcare workers, K-12 and institutions of higher education, and many other sectors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The HEROES Act would provide significant new support for colleges and universities. APLU staff developed a full legislative analysis for the HEROES Act available here.

On July 27, 2020, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, the Senate Republican Phase IV COVID-19 package. Totaling $1 trillion, the bill provides for $29 billion in emergency higher education funding, supplemental research relief funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and temporary, limited, coronavirus-related liability protections. APLU staff developed a full legislative analysis of the HEALS Act available here.

Negotiations between the House, Senate, and White House over summer 2020 stalled, and little progress has been made to date to move forward with additional emergency relief measures. In September 2020, Senate Republicans introduced a “skinny relief” package—later the same month, House Democrats responded with a slimmed down version of the HEROES Act. Moving into October 2020, the House and Senate remain far apart in their negotiations.

APLU continues to urge members of Congress to provide critical emergency financial assistance for higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.