Washington Watch: Stimulus work continues; advocacy needed

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High-level negotiations on the COVID-19 stimulus legislation are ongoing, largely between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats. Despite vastly different priorities, it appears likely that in the next two weeks or so Congress will pass another massive spending bill to help the country cope with the pandemic.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) continues to advocate for a number of priorities in this legislation. The core agenda item is securing substantial federal financial support for colleges and students, via formula grants. AACC is also pushing for direct additional support for Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act.

Support a headcount-based formula

With so much at stake, we ask you to help our efforts by getting your legislator to sign on to a letter (Word version or PDF version) from Rep. Mark Takano (D-California) to the leadership in both chambers. Takano’s letter urges Congress to include a headcount-based formula for distributing any higher education funds in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill, rather than using an FTE-driven formula as in the CARES Act.  

Community colleges would benefit greatly from a headcount formula compared to one based on FTEs because it reflects the reality of the largely working student population they serve. It also means colleges that traditionally serve students with fewer resources and have fewer resources themselves will get more of a fair share.

We urge all of you to contact your legislators to ask them to sign onto Takano’s letter. The letter is bicameral, so please contact both representatives and senators. While all the current signatories are Democrats, Republican support is entirely appropriate; this is an issue about helping the students and institutions that need resources the most, not political affiliation. 

Sign-on closes Friday

The letter is open for sign-ons until the close of business on Friday, August 7. Legislators who wish to sign the letter may contact Whitley O’Neal (whitley.oneal@mail.house.gov) in Takano’s office.

AACC maintains its support of dedicated funding of at least $46.6 billion to help students and colleges weather the health crisis. The spread of COVID-19 and its associated effects have had ever-greater financial impacts on students and institutions. 

Neither House nor Senate legislation provides the $46.6 billion that, at minimum, students and colleges require. This is critical to note as you conduct your advocacy on ensuring that community colleges get their fair share.

Please contact AACC if you have any questions about this key effort. We thank members for their engagement in our advocacy efforts.  

Washington Watch is written by AACC’s government relations office.

About the Author

David Baime
is senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges.