WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), both members of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) along with Reps. Adam Schiff (CA-28) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) on Friday reintroduced legislation to support students with disabilities. The Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act appropriates $11 billion for state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), $900 million for early childhood education programs, $300 million for personnel development, $55 million under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and requires recipients of funds to report to Congress how this money is spent.
"The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act cemented a basic right into law: that all students—no matter their disability—receive the support and resources they deserve. But for too long, we have failed to live up that promise. That's never been more true than during this pandemic, as millions of students with disabilities have faced unique challenges during remote learning and will need additional support to get back on track as schools reopen," said Murphy. "That's why I'm teaming up with Senators Hassan and Van Hollen to send schools an additional $11 billion to support students with disabilities. This is an urgent priority, and I hope to see this funding included in the next COVID relief bill."
“Many students with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by educational disruptions resulting from this pandemic,” said Hassan. “This legislation will provide much-needed funding to help ensure that students with disabilities continue to receive the same educational opportunities as their peers, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I will continue working with my colleagues to see to it that this funding is included in the next COVID-19 relief package.”
“For too long, Congress has failed to uphold its end of the deal in providing full funding to ensure a quality education for students with disabilities. COVID-19 has exacerbated school funding shortages across the country, further widening this gap. That’s why Congress must act now on this legislation to address these immediate needs in response to the COVID-19 emergency, and provide long-term full-funding for IDEA through the Keep our PACT Act. We must quickly work to get this done,” said Van Hollen.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its eleventh month, far too many students with disabilities have fallen behind. These students have always been among the most vulnerable in our educational system, but this year has posed even greater barriers to their success.” said Schiff. “We must ensure that schools have the resources they need to support students with disabilities and continue to provide them with the high-quality education they deserve.”
“This pandemic has caused substantial challenges in all of our lives, and children with disabilities have been faced with significant learning challenges as a result. We must ensure that our educational systems have the financial resources they need to support our special education programs, educators, and parents,” said Johnson. “It is for these children that I am proud to introduce the ‘Supporting Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act’ with my colleagues. These students should receive the same quality education as their peers during this ongoing public health crisis.”
Murphy recently joined Senator Van Hollen in introducing legislation to fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on a mandatory basis. Last year, Murphy and Hassan published an op-ed with 74million on the importance of increasing funding for children with disabilities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last April, Murphy also released bipartisan principles to support students with disabilities, calling for additional funding in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.
Text of the legislation is available here.