Conservatives press for concessions in GOP coronavirus relief bill

Bonnie Cash

Conservative Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (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 McConnell (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.

“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.

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 DeVos 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.”

Tags Betsy DeVos Conservative coronavirus relief COVID-19 Josh Hawley Mitch McConnell Pandemic Ted Cruz
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