September 2020 Public Policy Roundup

September 2020 Public Policy Roundup

Publication date: 
September, 2020

By Hillary Evans, vice president of professional learning & public policy, Philanthropy Southwest

House Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund the Government; Negotiation Continues for a COVID Relief Package
On September 22, House leaders passed, on a 359 to 57 vote, a bipartisan continuing resolution (H.R. 8337) to extend funding for the federal government through December 11, averting a government shutdown. While the bill provides additional nutrition assistance funding for struggling Americans, there is no other additional COVID related relief.  The House could vote on a $2.4 trillion COVID relief bill as soon as next week. In August, negotiations broke down between House leaders and the White House. The main sticking point has been over the price tag of this relief aid bill. There is bipartisan common ground around additional funding for schools; extending unemployment insurance; providing additional direct payments to households and a second round of Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans to businesses suffering significant revenue declines. There is also continuing advocacy among the charitable and nonprofit sectors to urge Congress to reach agreement on a compromise relief aid package and include charities and nonprofits. 

Senate Introduces Census Deadline Legislation
Senators Schatz (D-HI) and Murkowski (R-AK) introduced on September 15 the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act. Specifically, the bills:

  • Extend, per the Administration's original request this spring, the deadline for the delivery of apportionment data to the US House of Representatives to April 30, 2021 from December 31, 2020 and extend the statutory delivery of redistricting data to the states to July 31, 2021 from March 31, 2021.
  • Require continuation of nonresponse follow-up and self-response through at least through October 31, 2020 to give the Census Bureau enough time to ensure a full count, including in historically undercounted communities.

Since the bill’s introduction, the sponsors have received bipartisan support from Senate leaders, and hundreds of national, state, and local organizations, including Philanthropy Southwest, have endorsed the bill.  Please read a one-pager and full bill text, here.
In addition to this legislation, civil rights groups, civic organizations and local governments have litigated against this expedited timeline, resulting in temporary restraining orders and judges blocking the shortened timeline.

Philanthropy Southwest to Update its Giving Study
With the generous support of the Reissa Foundation, Philanthropy Southwest plans to update its Giving Study, beginning this Fall.  The last Giving Study in 2016 provided a comprehensive and detailed look at foundations’ giving in the seven-state region. PSW will update this data and also examine new trends and gaps in charitable giving throughout the Southwest. To assist with this data collection and analysis, PSW will be working with Brit DeWitt, a graduate-level student at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs. Brit is currently a CONNECT Fellow with the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service’s CONNECT Program. She has worked on educational equity issues in Denver, Colorado and served as a consultant to the Rose Community Foundation. PSW was selected to participate in the CONNECT Program and is very grateful and excited about this new partnership with RGK Center and Reissa Foundation, whose legacy evolved from the RGK Foundation. In addition to the Giving Study, PSW will also be developing its policy advocacy engagement strategy, particularly at the state and local levels in our region. This strategy will encompass using the data from the Giving Study to help tell the story of philanthropy in the Southwest and garner greater support and visibility of the charitable sector from policymakers and other stakeholders.

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