McConnell: GOP coronavirus relief bill will include $105 billion for schools

McConnell: GOP coronavirus relief bill will include $105 billion for schools
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Memo: Trump's justices look set to restrict abortion Conservatives could force shutdown over Biden vaccine mandate Freedom Caucus urges McConnell to block government funding over vaccine mandates MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that a forthcoming Republican coronavirus proposal will include more than $100 billion for schools.

Republicans view help for schools — which are weighing whether to reopen for in-person classes — as a top priority for the next coronavirus relief measure, along with support for health care and jobs.

"This country wants its kids back in the classroom this fall learning, exploring, making friends. Their education depends on it. ... This majority is preparing legislation that will send $105 billion so that educators have the resources they need to safely reopen," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

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The figure from McConnell is significantly higher than the more than $70 billion White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsJan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official Fauci 'not aware' Trump tested positive for COVID-19 days before 2020 debate The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's pre-debate COVID-19 test sparks criticism MORE on Sunday said Republicans were discussing as part of their proposal.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE had also indicated after a meeting with key GOP senators on Monday night that the administration and Republicans were looking at more than $70 million.

How to fund schools, and what restrictions to place on the money, has been a running point of debate as Congress prepares to negotiate the next coronavirus aid package.

The administration views the resumption of in-person classes as a top priority. Trump previously threatened to defund schools that did not reopen for fall classes.

But schools are having to grapple with how to hold in-person classes, or if they should hold them at all, amid a spike in coronavirus cases across the country. Some school districts have already said they will hold virtual classes, or some combination of in-person and distance learning.

McConnell did not say during his floor speech if, or how much of, the funds would be tied to school districts reopening. He added that there would be an additional pot of money related to child care.

Some GOP senators have indicated that they believe schools that do not reopen for in-person classes will still need assistance as part of the upcoming bill.

“I just don't think you can come up with a national federal policy that’s a one size fits all. The circumstances are very different,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHouse passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy Senate nearing deal on defense bill after setback Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default MORE (R-S.D.), asked about tying the education funding to schools reopening for in-person classes.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Senate Republicans clash over government shutdown strategy MORE (R-Mo.) added that "some of that support" could be conditioned because schools that reopen would have different costs.

"[But] I think, in any case, schools at all levels have been impacted by what happened and so I think a lot of that support needs to not be conditioned," he added.