Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is introducing an amendment to the Senate Reconciliation Bill to ensure the nearly $130 billion in federal COVID-19 relief for U.S. schools is spent in 2021.
The Senate is holding a marathon “vote-a-rama” session on Friday for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package during which Republicans can offer unlimited amendments to the bill and force Democrats to take politically tough votes on everything from abortion to border security.
Daines condemned President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a Friday statement to Fox News, saying the three “are throwing billions of dollars at schools without requiring them to open.”
“Only 5% of the roughly $130 billion for schools in this package will be spent this year, leaving 95% of it to be spent through 2028,” Daines said. “How does that have to do with this pandemic? It doesn’t. It’s not surprising as the Democrats support opening the southern border for illegal immigrants while keeping schools closed for American students.”
The president’s COVID-19 relief package would put $128 billion toward helping K-12 public schools deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in February that just $6 billion would flow to schools in 2021.
The CBO estimated that the number would increase to $32 billion in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The rest of the money would be paid out through 2028, according to a cost estimate released on Feb. 16.
The comparatively small outlay for fiscal year 2021, which runs through Sept. 30, 2021, is expected because previously allocated money has not yet been spent.
Congress previously approved $31 billion for education relief in the March CARES Act and an additional $82 billion for education relief in the December Consolidated Appropriations Act.
“Because most of those funds remain to be spent, CBO anticipates that the bulk of spending of funds provided in the reconciliation recommendations would occur after 2021,” the agency told Fox News in a statement at the time.
A White House official clarified to Fox News at the time that the Biden administration will not allocate funding based on CBO projections and said the president is committed to providing schools with the resources they need to safely reopen and fully serve their students, including more funding to cover COVID-19-related costs, budget shortfalls and financial certainty.
The official added that Biden’s proposal is based on a careful assessment of urgent needs for the 2021 school year and into the next and the administration believes, based on this analysis, that the funds would be used much faster than CBO assumes.
Daines is also introducing amendments to block the expansion of the Affordable Care Act, block bailouts for blue states that were in debt pre-COVID-19, double the child tax credit in the first year, prevent $175 million from going toward transportation projects in Democratic states like California and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to fund 120% of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s loan debt.