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Senate COVID-19 Relief Proposal Falls Short

The following is a statement from AAU President Mary Sue Coleman about the Senate Republicans’ COVID-19 relief proposal, known collectively as the “Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections, and Schools (HEALS) Act:”

While I applaud the Senate Republicans’ efforts to introduce a comprehensive package of legislation to address the many issues that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic, this bill falls significantly short of what is needed for students and research universities.

We are pleased that the legislation includes $29 billion in emergency relief funding for students and universities; new funding for COVID-19 research; relief funding to help mitigate disruptions to NIH-supported research; and temporary and targeted protections from potentially meritless COVID-19 lawsuits against colleges and universities that are making reasonable efforts to safeguard students, faculty, staff, and visitors. These provisions recognize key elements of relief that are necessary – but additional funding for students, colleges and universities to meet educational needs and research relief for all federal agencies is still needed to address the impacts of the pandemic.

As it stands, the measure unfairly and counterproductively penalizes our students, faculty, staff, and campus communities by limiting relief funding for schools that are required to pay the misguided and counterproductive endowment tax included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The bill also includes the “Safeguarding American Innovation Act,” which could block talented students and scholars from coming to the United States, harming American science without improving national security.

My colleagues and I look forward to working with congressional leaders and administration officials as they create a pandemic relief package that more robustly addresses the needs of our students, researchers, and the ability of universities to fight the pandemic.

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Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities is composed of America’s leading research universities. AAU’s 65 research universities transform lives through education, research, and innovation.

Our member universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that improves public health, seeks to address national challenges, and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators.

AAU member universities collectively help shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of leading research universities to American society.

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