While there has been some significant fracturing among Republicans over the much-discussed second stimulus package, on Tuesday some members of the GOP managed to tamp down any further divide — at least for now. Republicans in the Senate announced that they planned to allocate $105 billion for schools as part of the bill, along with direct payments to families and more aid for struggling small businesses, according to the New York Times.
Despite the promise of billions of relief dollars for schools, it's unclear if the White House will be willing to accept the proposal. Republican Senator Roy Blunt said that the funding would include about $70 billion for elementary, middle and high schools. Although more money available to school districts that reopen in the fall. "They're going to have more expenses," Blunt said, adding that another $30 billion would be set aside for colleges and universities, with $5 billion that would be at the discretion of governors.
The current stimulus package, which was given a 'starting point' of $1 trillion, has come at the opposition of several Republican lawmakers. While Sen. John Cornyn caught some flack over his speculation that stimulus checks weren't "the best use" of money, Sen. Rand Paul has openly called out his GOP colleagues over the proposed $105 billion in funding, even musing for Reagan-era calls to defund the Department of Education entirely.
While Senate Democrats have put forward legislation that would provide $430 billion to schools. However, there is some concern that the executive branch could insist that any money comes only on the condition that schools are reopened fully by the fall, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trump, in particular, has been adamant that all schools should reopen in the fall, and even threatened to withhold funding to those that don't comply with his demand.
"The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a press conference on July 16. "I was just in the Oval talking to him about that, and when he says open, he means open in full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this." She then went on to say that "the science is very clear on this" when referring to reopening, including a study about the low-level fatalities resulting from COVID-19.