Current Issues 2022
ACSI members are provided with frequent updates and talking points on current issues in Washington, D.C. These highlights are designed to keep you informed and give you valuable insights for prayer and interaction with legislators.
2022 Updates from Washington D.C. by P. George Tryfiates
Update includes SCOTUS Ruling on Vaccine Mandate; federal COVID Test program; UPK/Child Care; federal Outlook/dates; ACSI’s PP&A Webinar.
- OSHA Vaccine Mandate. The Supreme Court was asked to issue a stay on enforcement of the vaccine mandate from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for employers of 100 or more. On January 13, 2022, it did just that, although it also allowed the mandate to apply to health care workers. ACSI updated our Memo on this issue; check it out for a few more details. In announcing the stay of the mandate, the Supreme Court gave the Sixth Circuit its marching orders and so the next step is to await that court’s ruling…which itself would likely be appealed to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile: no enforcement of the mandate.
- COVID Test availability. The White House is promoting this week its latest K–12 COVID test program. The US Department of Education says private schools are eligible: they would go through the same process as public schools and should reach out to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) program in their jurisdiction. The CDC has a map of state sites and contacts online: https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dpei/elc/covid-response/index.html
- COVID Test FFA? Be aware, that it appears participants would become recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) according to Question 26 of the ELC Reopening Schools FAQ:
Q26: If a recipient uses the funds to provide financial support to private schools for COVID-19 screening testing, do the private schools have to follow the Federal reporting and other requirements listed in the guidance and/or Notice of Award Terms & Conditions?
A: As the private schools are sub-recipients of Federal funds (i.e., ELC Reopening Schools), they are bound by the same HHS mandates and award terms and conditions that apply to the ELC recipient.
- UPK/Child Care. Is Build Back Better (BBB) really dead? So, it would seem. Why do we care? We care because BBB included language to establish the Administration’s vision of universal pre–K (UPK) and new child care provisions. So, let’s bear in mind two things: (1) BBB was merely the vehicle for the two UPK/Child Care programs, and, (2) UPK/Child Care are top priorities for the Administration. That is to say, if BBB revives, it is likely to include UPK/CC. If it stays dead, then the Administration is very likely to find another vehicle for UPK/CC. So, please continue to promote our Voter Voice alert as you are led by clicking here: https://www.votervoice.net/ACSI/campaigns/90340/respond.
- UPK/Child Care Reminder. The language in BBB is what’s on the table for both programs whether BBB itself moves or not. That language was improved, but still not at all good enough. The UPK program especially is based on direct grants and thus full-on federal financial assistance (FFA) which deliberately is designed to suppress engagement by faith-based entities (like yours). Even the child care language is iffy. The best solution is the CCDBG model, if indeed these policies go forward. (CCDBG = Child Care & Development Block Grant Act).
- Outlook. Four items to note:
a) Congress has not passed its budget for the fiscal year that began last October 1, 2021. (I’d be interested to know if you’ve ever tried that little trick with your board of directors). The Continuing Resolution (CR) (a “resolution” that “continues” funding at current levels) expires February 18, so perhaps an omnibus money bill would include other things like UPK/CC? Who knows?
b) Religious Freedom Day is January 16th, to commemorate the passage of Jefferson’s Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom in 1786.
c) The March for Life is Friday, January 21, 2022. Welcome to all ACSI schools who plan to be in DC that day!
d) The State of the Union is now set for March 1, 2022. Presumably after the money bill for the current fiscal year (which is well-nigh half over) has passed.
- ACSI Monthly Webinar. Don’t forget to register for our next monthly Public Policy & Advocacy Webinar on January 20, 2022. Yours truly is the guest speaker and we’ll talk COVID relief, UPK, and more. Yes, I’m on the month after former USDE Secretary Betsy DeVos…not sure why I agreed to that.
Update includes the latest on BBB/UPK/Child Care and an ACSI alert; upcoming dates.
- Welcome to 2022! We kick off the New Year in DC with a snowstorm following a 65-degree holiday weekend. The news reports are saying the Build Back Better (BBB) legislation is still the subject of talks between Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and the White House. Right before the Christmas break, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a letter saying BBB would get a vote at some point. We sent an alert to all of you in the Christian school community at the time with the understanding that BBB was not just going to disappear despite all the media reports that it was dead. You know how Dickens opens A Christmas Carol with very clear statements that Marley is dead and how knowing that fact is the key to his whole story? Right. Well, as expected, BBB is not that dead. It’s struggling, but is highly likely to recover in some form or another.
- Thank you to all who responded to the alert. If you have not yet done so, please click the link here and urge your Senators to take action.
- Please also take a moment to send the link to your wider school community. https://www.votervoice.net/ACSI/campaigns/90340/respond. Negotiations over the universal pre-K (UPK) and childcare program language in the bill are very much alive.
- Looking ahead: the State of the Union Address is coming up January 25th. Religious Freedom Day is January 16th, to commemorate the passage of Jefferson’s Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom in 1786. Remember: Almighty God created the mind free, so government may not restrict your conscience or impose punishments for your beliefs. “No man … shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” Why? Because that would be “a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do.”