Alexander: Democrats Block Bill to Help Americans Go Safely Back to School, College and Child Care and Prepare for Future Pandemics

Posted on September 10, 2020

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2020  Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said “the only way for Congress to help the American people get through the COVID-19 pandemic is for Democrats and Republicans to work together” after Democrats blocked a proposal to help Americans go safely back to school, college and child care and prepare for future pandemics from being debated on the Senate floor.

The proposal—Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act—provides $105 billion to help schools re-open and gives parents more choices of schools for their children, $15 billion to provide more child care for working parents, $16 billion for states to conduct more testing and contact tracing, $31 billion for tests, treatments, and vaccines development. It also provides for sustained funding to prepare for future pandemics.

“While we are in the midst of dealing with this pandemic it would also be wise to remember any legislation Congress passes this year should make sure that support for onshore manufacturing is sustained, stockpiles are full, and states have the right tools and resources to respond. The reason to do that now, while our eye is on the ball, is because the next pandemic could be next year.”

“Since March, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed four major bills providing nearly $3 trillion to provide relief to families, workers and businesses, and to contain the disease, but there is still more work to be done,” Alexander concluded. “Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to work together to achieve a result for the American people.” 

The Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act:

Helps schools re-open — by providing $105 billion to help schools re-open with as many students physically present as is consistent with safety.

Gives parents more choices of schools — by providing one-time, emergency funding for education scholarships and allows parents to use 529 education savings accounts for more educational resources, including home schools, for the next two years.

Provides more child care — by providing $15 billion to help parents get the child care they need and child care centers and operators stay open so they can continue to serve working parents and provide safe environments for the two-thirds of children in the U.S. under age 6 who have parents in the workforce.

Ramps up tests, treatments and vaccines — by providing $16 billion for states to conduct more testing and contact tracing, in states, and $31 billion to develop and procure tests, treatments, and vaccines, support vaccine distribution, and other preparedness and response activities.

Helps prepare for future pandemics — by including provisions to make sure that onshore manufacturing plants are ready to rapidly manufacture tests, treatments, and vaccines, to create and sustain state stockpiles, and to strengthen the Strategic National Stockpile.