Merkley and colleagues urge US Senate leadership to include higher ed in next COVID relief bill

In a June 11 letter, US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) led 30 US Senate colleagues in urging Senate leadership to include $47 billion in financial support for students and institutions of higher learning in the next COVID-19 emergency relief bill. The letter emphasized the substantial costs and losses already faced by institutions of higher education as enrollment declines and state cuts jeopardize the financial vitality of schools.

To meet the needs of these schools and their students during this tumultuous time, the senators requested that significant additional emergency relief be provided by Congress, and that schools receive the flexibility they need to use the funding most effectively within their communities. The letter stated, “Congress responded in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the emergency financial needs of students, colleges, and universities by providing $14 billion in support through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. However, students and institutions are experiencing vastly greater need.”  

University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill and other university and community college leaders in Oregon praised Merkley’s ongoing leadership. “Senator Merkley continues to show enormous leadership in supporting students and higher education,” said Schill, “The last CARES bill provided direct financial relief to our students whose lives were disrupted by COVID-19 and to our universities that are suffering ruinous losses. We are incredibly proud and grateful to our senator for his strong and effective advocacy in working to ensure this virus doesn’t stop Oregonians from earning their degrees and achieving opportunity.”  Additional comments from Oregon university and community college presidents can be found here.

The Senate is expected to start drafting the next relief package no sooner than after the July 4 recess. The US House of Representatives passed HEROES, its proposal for a fourth stimulus, earlier this month.