Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is tired of watching coronavirus relief money go to institutions that have no need of the funds. That’s why he introduced a bill this week to prevent rich universities from taking taxpayer money unless they’ve already tapped their enormous resources to help themselves through the pandemic crisis.
In a statement, Hawley said: “Universities with massive endowments should not be getting taxpayer money unless they spend some money out of their own pockets to actually help their students. This is common sense. Relief funds were intended for schools that need it, not wealthy universities that sit on huge endowments. It’s greed, plain and simple, and it’s wrong.”
Hawley has the support of fellow Senate Republicans Martha McSally (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), each of whom has added their names as sponsors to the legislation.
If passed, the bill would require universities with more than $10 billion in endowments to spend 10 times the amount offered under the coronavirus stimulus package to make themselves eligible for federal relief. A university applying for federal aid would also have to show that it spent those endowment funds on the same uses authorized by the CARES Act, which means they used the funds to grant emergency financial aid to students and beef up their digital learning operations and they didn’t use them to make new diversity hires or open up another gender studies wing in the Humanities Department.
Republicans in the House are also introducing similar legislation, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
“This bill shouldn’t be controversial or partisan. If universities have large endowments, they should spend some of that endowment on their students first, before seeking a federal bailout,” Jordan said in a statement. “This legislation ensures that large universities are held accountable to taxpayers in the future, while at the same time directing funds to those actually in need. I’m proud to stand behind this important legislation with Senator Hawley and Congressman Cline.”
Republicans on Capitol Hill are following through on a warning sent out by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who said last week that it was unfair to taxpayers for the government to bail out wealthy universities who were sitting on an untapped gold mine.
“Wealthy institutions that do not primarily serve low-income students do not need or deserve additional taxpayer funds. This is common sense,” DeVos said. “Schools with large endowments should not apply for funds so more can be given to students who need support the most. It’s also important for Congress to change the law to make sure no more taxpayer funds go to elite, wealthy institutions.”