NAICU Washington Update - May 21, 2020

June 05, 2020

Dear NAICU Member:
With the passing of the HEROES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives last week, advocacy efforts in support of continued funding support for higher education now moves to the Senate as they head into a ten-day Memorial Day recess to focus on the continued effects of COVID-19 on their home states.

For higher education to be included in any future funding, we will have to work together to ensure inclusion in this next bill. NAICU has identified and created talking points for several priority issue areas to be emphasized in the Senate, including: requesting $46.6 billion for student and institutional support, zero-interest federal loans to institutions, prioritizing safety, liability relief, and unemployment insurance waivers (full suite of talking points). 

In this week’s Washington Update, with heightened attention on fall re-opening from the media and policy makers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines for colleges to consider as they weigh opening campuses in the months ahead.  Also, top Trump Administration officials testified before a Senate committee hearing on the economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read about these and other issues below.

A reminder that NAICU has created dedicated COVID-19 and Title IX webpages that contain important resources and tools to help answer questions you may have about legislative and regulatory actions on these issues.


Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
NAICU President


CDC Issues Guiding Principles to Open Campuses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released what it is calling “considerations” colleges and universities should take into account as they plan to safely re-open their campuses. These new guidelines follow a sprawling document the CDC released last week that was criticized for its lack of detail. 
The CDC is recommending that implementation should be guided by what is “feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community,” and that colleges and universities work in collaboration with state and local health agencies. This week’s guidelines also take into account that colleges and universities are located in diverse geographic locations and vary in size and mission. 

Higher Education Community Weighs in on Optional Practical Training

The higher education community sent a letter to Chris Liddell, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff for Policy Development at the White House, focusing on international students and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. Liddell had previously convened a roundtable discussion on international students and specialty occupations with higher education, technology, and business groups last year.

The letter supports the retention of the OPT program, which allows international students the opportunity to remain in the U.S. for a period of time to enhance their educational experience. There is concern that in the current environment with U.S. workforce issues in crisis, that the administration may end or temporarily suspend the OPT program. NAICU and the higher education associations that signed the letter offer to partner with the administration as it considers the status of programs affecting international students, and requests an additional opportunity to speak with the officials about the contributions of international students attending U.S. colleges and universities to the economy and domestic businesses.

Administration Officials Testify on Economic Response to the Pandemic

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified via videoconference at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs this week on the Trump Administration’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing was expected to focus on the nearly $3 trillion in economic stimulus funds approved by Congress, including a $500 billion fund managed by Treasury and the Federal Reserve, but the majority of time was spent with committee members arguing over re-opening the economy and workforce health risks.

Lawmakers from both parties questioned why the Federal Reserve isn’t moving faster to push out the lending programs already authorized by Congress. The Federal Reserve has yet to launch its new Main Street Lending facility, aimed at helping businesses that are too large to qualify for a small business loan. The higher education community is pushing for the Main Street Lending program to be available to private, nonprofit and public colleges and universities.  Language was included in the House-passed HEROES Act that would do just that. The Federal Reserve has expressed interest in assisting colleges and universities but would need a different metric than what is currently used for for-profit businesses.

The hearing took place amid debate about Congress’s next steps in responding to the virus outbreak. The HEROES Act would add $3 trillion more in assistance, but Senate Republicans and the White House are not expected to take up the bill any time soon. Senate leadership and Administration officials say they want to pause and see how the money already approved is working before agreeing to any more. 

NAICU Joins Brief Supporting Harvard in Admissions Case

NAICU has signed on to an amicus brief filed in support of Harvard University in a case challenging the institution’s affirmative action policy.  NAICU is among 41 higher education associations to join the brief, which asserts that a diverse student body is essential to the educational objectives of colleges and universities and that institutions should be able to exercise academic judgment to determine within broad limits the diversity that will advance their individual missions.

Last year, a federal district court ruled in favor of Harvard, upholding the university’s diversity policy following a trial in which a group of Asian American students alleged that the university's consideration of race in admissions discriminated against Asian American applicants. The case is currently on appeal.

Colleges and Universities Eligible for Worker Safety and Health Training Grants

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the availability of $11.5 million in training grants for nonprofit organizations, including colleges and universities.

According to OSHA, the grant program supports in-person, hands-on training for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers, who are underserved, have limited English proficiency, or are temporary workers. The grants will fund training and education to help workers and employers identify and prevent workplace safety and health hazards, including the coronavirus, through the following funding opportunities categories:
  • Targeted Topic Training grants support educational programs that address identifying and preventing workplace hazards;
  • Training and Educational Materials Development grants support the development of quality classroom-ready training and educational materials that focus on identifying and preventing workplace hazards; and
  • Capacity Building grants support organizations in developing new capacity for conducting workplace safety and health training programs and must provide training and education based on identified needs of a specific audience or a set of related topics. 
Applications for the grants must be submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 20, 2020 via

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