EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: GOP congressman says no bailout money for rich colleges
- Rep. Ben Cline, in an exclusive interview with Campus Reform, slammed colleges receiving money from the CARES Act.
- Cline introduced a bill that would bar universities with endowments of more than $10 billion from receiving the funds.
Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) proposed the Use Your Endowment Act, calling for colleges and universities with endowments larger than $10 billion not to receive federal funding through the CARES Act. The proposal would also require such schools to return to the Treasury Department any funding they have already received through the CARES Act.
Cline isn't the only lawmaker to be outspoken on "rich" colleges receiving federal aid, however. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) introduced similar legislation, as Campus Reform previously reported, that would bar colleges with large endowments from receiving CARES Act financial assistance, which provided colleges across the country with billions of dollars to help them amid the coronavirus crisis.
While multiple struggling colleges received money, schools with endowments up to $40 billion, like Harvard University, also got help. Harvard, along with Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern, announced they would not accept the aid amid public criticism.
“One thing we noticed when we passed the CARES Act to provide all this critical support was that there were some folks who were unintended beneficiaries of the funds,” Cline explained in a video interview with Campus Reform.
“You have Harvard University with $32 billion of endowment... indicating they would receive PPP money to help them with handling this coronavirus pandemic. But with an endowment like that it was my view and the view of Josh Hawley that they needed to tap their own endowment before they got to access any public funding and that’s what this bill would do," Cline said.
Cline further elaborated, pointing out that the CARES Act was meant to benefit small businesses, and that colleges “are not small businesses, they’re huge enterprises...They need to be using that money to help students through these difficult times, not using taxpayer dollars to do so.”
A portion of the CARES Act, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, allocated $14 billion to colleges and universities, $6 billion of which was required by law to go directly to students in need of assistance. '
A separate portion of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, was intended for small businesses.
While the bill has not yet reached the House floor, Cline was not optimistic about gaining bipartisan support, saying “most of our support is coming from the Republican side of the aisle," adding, "I don’t think we’ve picked up any Democrat co-sponsors yet, but hope springs eternal."
"We hope that those on both sides of the aisle realize that this money needs to be targeted to address the coronavirus pandemic, it needs to go to those most in need," Cline added, going on to point out the tendency of many colleges and universities to misuse funds.
“For these institutions to take advantage of taxpayer dollars and then use them for various liberal programs they have… of non-scientific liberal arts studies, that’s not what this money was intended for and that’s not what it should be used for," Cline said.
“It’s gonna be tough for families to get by through this pandemic, it’s gonna be tough for small businesses to get by, it’s not gonna be tough for Harvard with 32 billion dollars to get through this. They have an army of accounts and lawyers, they should be able to make available enough funds to get through the next couple of months because that's what this funding was provided for…”
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