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Conservatives press for concessions in GOP coronavirus relief bill

Conservatives press for concessions in GOP coronavirus relief bill
© Bonnie Cash

Conservative Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (R-Texas) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Rush Limbaugh lauds Hawley: 'This guy is the real deal' MORE (R-Mo.) are pushing to add language to a GOP coronavirus relief bill that would provide tax credits for homeschooling expenses and for donations to nonprofit scholarship funds.

The move comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (R-Ky.) is trying to round up 51 Republican votes for a slimmed-down relief package that would provide $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance, $105 billion to help colleges and schools resume in-person classes, money for another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, and funds for child care and the Postal Service. The GOP leader said Tuesday that he will take steps to set up a floor vote as soon as this week.

Hawley, Cruz and several other conservative senators have raised concerns for weeks about the cost of more emergency spending for COVID-19 aid.

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“I hope any new Republican COVID bill will include help for working families having to homeschool for the first time -- with so many schools closed or online and kids at home, working families need the support,” Hawley tweeted on Tuesday after McConnell announced plans for a floor vote.

Hawley wants a fully refundable tax credit for homeschooling expenses that would cover the cost of curriculum materials, books, tech devices, laboratory equipment and organizational materials and supplies, such as notebooks and folders.

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A Senate aide familiar with the negotiations said the new slimmed-down GOP measure will include two years of the tax credits Cruz proposed in his Education Freedom Scholarship and Opportunity Act.

Cruz’s bill would provide federal tax credits to individuals and businesses to donate to nonprofit scholarship funds. The program would help subsidize private school tuition, something that Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration America has a civic education problem — here's how to fix it Biden's Education secretary must expel the harmful policies of the last four years MORE has pushed for during the pandemic.

DeVos came under fire earlier this year for using money Congress appropriated for higher education and elementary and secondary schools in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to create micro-grants for parents to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. 

Cruz calls school choice “the civil rights issue of the 21st century.”