[Congressional Record Volume 166, Number 193 (Thursday, November 12, 2020)]
[Pages S6659-S6660]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, this summer, Senator Smith and I introduced 
the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act. If enacted, this bill would 
provide much needed relief to school districts participating in the 
Impact Aid Program. And given the many other

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strains they are feeling due to the ongoing pandemic, it can't come 
soon enough.
  By way of background, public school districts on military 
installations, Tribal land, and other Federal public property, or with 
students living on these Federal properties, can participate in the 
Impact Aid Program, which includes nearly 40 school districts in the 
State of South Dakota.
  This program is of vital importance to the financial well-being of 
these schools, as it reimburses them for revenue shortfalls due to the 
reduction or absence of a local tax base because of the presence of 
Federal property
  In order to determine grant awards through this program, school 
districts must annually calculate the number of federally connected 
students that they have enrolled. While generally a prudent exercise, 
during a pandemic, conducting this type of count has presented a new 
set of challenges for administrators.
  The Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act is a commonsense, bipartisan 
approach that would not cost a dime yet would provide financial 
stability to school districts by allowing them to use last year's 
student headcounts on impact aid applications that they are completing 
this fall. Doing so would prevent the reporting of noticeable, but 
likely temporary, declines in student enrollment, which would lead to 
student reduced impact aid payments next year.
  Distance learning has made collecting student data more challenging 
as well. Districts are also experiencing declines in student headcount 
due to parents choosing to temporarily homeschool their children during 
the pandemic.
  Unless Congress allows these school districts to use last year's 
student headcounts on this year's impact aid applications, schools will 
have the undue burden of collecting this data during an otherwise 
challenging time and could very well experience a reduced impact aid 
payment next fall. Our legislation will ensure that they have certainty 
in the near term.
  A companion of our bill passed the House by unanimous consent on 
October 2, and impact aid school districts are eager for the Senate to 
do the same. I hope we can get that done today.
  I yield to the Senator from Minnesota for some comments.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
  Ms. SMITH. Mr. President, I rise in support of my colleague Senator 
Thune's request to pass the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act, H.R. 
8472, by unanimous consent.
  As we continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we need to 
support schools so that students can keep learning. In Congress, we 
have a special obligation to federally impacted schools. As my 
colleague Senator Thune has said, these are schools that are located in 
districts with a significant amount of nontaxable land, which puts them 
at a significant disadvantage for raising education revenue. And we 
make this right by providing direct Federal payments which are crucial 
for their operation.
  What this bill does--what our bill does--is to provide a commonsense 
change. It allows school districts to use student counts from the 
previous academic year when they submit their impact aid applications. 
In light of the challenges of doing a safe and active count in the 
midst of this coronavirus pandemic, this only makes sense.
  I thank my colleague from North Dakota, Senator Thune. I have been so 
glad to work with him to support school districts that rely on Impact 
Aid Programs and to promote financial stability for these school 
districts during the pandemic.
  I hope we can pass this bill today and get it signed into law.
  I yield.
  Mr. THUNE. I thank the Senator from Minnesota.
  Mr. President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent 
that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of H.R. 8472, 
which was received from the House.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The bill clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 8472) to provide that, due to the disruptions 
     caused by COVID-19, applications for impact aid funding for 
     fiscal year 2022 may use certain data submitted in the fiscal 
     year 2021 application.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to proceeding?
  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The bill (H.R. 8472) was ordered to a third reading, was read the 
third time, and passed.