In a statement that followed, Harvard acknowledged receiving its $8.6 million through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Trump signed last month.
However, Harvard did not say it would pay the money back.
The university tweeted: “Harvard has committed that 100% of these emergency higher education funds will be used to provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Harvard said it had already provided financial assistance to students with travel, living expenses and online education amid the pandemic.
However, it disputed President Trump’s suggestion that it had received aid through the Payment Protection Program (PPP), a fund intended as a lifeline for businesses struggling amid the pandemic.
The university said it had instead benefited from the stimulus bill’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which disburses money based on an institution’s overall number of students and how many lower-income students are enrolled.
The CARES Act reserved $12.5 billion in federal aid to about 5,000 colleges and universities.
Harvard was not the only elite university to receive a windfall under the stimulus. Princeton, which has a $26 billion endowment, is getting $2.4 million, while Yale – endowment $30 billion – is receiving $6.9 million.
On April 21, the US Senate approved another $330 billion of emergency relief funds to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic after the original aid package of $350 billion ran out of money last week.
The PPP was designed to help so-called mom-and-pop stores keep staff on the payroll during the coronavirus emergency that has left 22 million American workers claiming unemployment benefits.
However, instead of going towards such small businesses, nearly $250 billion of the initial stimulus went to publicly traded companies with market values topping $100 million, according to analysis from Morgan Stanley, an investment bank.
President Trump has signed into law the
largest-ever US financial stimulus package, worth $2 trillion, as the country
grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
The House of Representatives passed
the cross-party bill two days after the Senate debated its provisions.
On March 25, the number of Americans
filing for unemployment surged to a record high of 3.3 million people.
As of March 27, the US has more
confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 100,000
No Democratic lawmakers were invited
to the historic signing ceremony, which was held at the White House, though the
president thanked both parties “for coming together, setting aside their
differences and putting America first”.
President Trump said the package was
“twice as large” as any prior relief bill.
He said: “This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families,
workers and businesses.”
Just before signing the act into
law, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which gives the
president the power to force private industries to create items required for
President Trump said the order will
compel General Motors (GM) to manufacture much-needed medical ventilators for
the federal government.
Earlier in the day, President Trump
tweeted that GM had promised to “give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, very
“Now they are saying it will only be 6,000, in late
April, and they want top dollar,”
he said, threatening to invoke the DPA.
During the bill signing, President Trump
said that “tremendous [medical] supplies” would be coming soon,
adding: “We’ve had great results on
just about everything we’re talking about.”
On March 27, New York Governor
Andrew Cuomo announced eight temporary hospitals to meet an expected surge in
He said 519 people had died in the
state – the worst-hit in the US – and there were 44,635 confirmed cases.
Democrats and Republicans in the
Democratic-led House approved the stimulus package by voice vote on March 27
following a three-hour debate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Our nation faces an economic and
health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst
pandemic in over 100 years.”
Members of the House had been ready
to conduct the vote at their homes but were forced to return to Washington at
the last minute after a Republican representative from Kentucky demanded a
quorum of half the chamber be present.
Thomas Massie – who objected to the
stimulus package saying it contained too much spending – also sought to delay
proceedings by demanding a formal recorded vote, as opposed to a voice vote,
but was overruled.
President Trump vented his fury at
Thomas Massie on Twitter, calling him a “third-rate grandstander” and
demanding he be thrown out of the Republican party.
The new law enables direct payments to individuals and companies whose
livelihoods and businesses have been affected by the pandemic.
It seeks to deliver $1,200 to every American earning less than $75,000 per
year and $500 to the parents of every child.
The law also gives money directly to state governments, and bolsters the
unemployment benefits program.
Under the law, jobless benefits will be extended to those not normally
covered, such as freelancers and workers in the gig economy.
It also offers loans and tax breaks to companies that face going out of
business, as one in every four Americans is ordered to remain at home and only
go outside for essential needs.
Officials across the US have closed restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels and
gyms in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Auto companies have halted production and air travel has fallen
dramatically. According to economists, a fifth of the US workforce is on some
form of lockdown.
With almost 1,500 virus-related fatalities, the US death toll remains lower than those in Italy and China. But there are virus hotspots in New York, New Orleans and Detroit.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell described the package as a “wartime level of investment” in
the US nation.
If passed, it would be the largest
government economic stimulus in US history.
The agreement must still be voted through the House of Representatives and
the Senate before President Trump signs it off but it enjoys cross-party
One factor that may delay its passage is the question of how voting will be
conducted, given that some members of Congress are off with coronavirus or are
self-isolating having come into contact with infected people.
New York Governor Cuomo dismissed the plan as “terrible for the
state” and called the proposed $3.8 billion “a drop in the bucket, as
The details of the stimulus bill have not yet gone to the House, making some
lawmakers wary of signaling their early approval.
If any member objects to unanimous consent, lawmakers will be asked to
return to Washington and vote over the course of an entire day, in order to
limit how many people are present on the House floor at one time.
President Trump said he hoped America could get back to normal by Easter,
which falls on April 12 this year.
He told Fox News: “We’re going to
be opening relatively soon…
“I would love to have the country
opened up and just rearing to go by Easter.”
However, the president later sounded more cautious, saying: “We’ll only do it if it’s good.”
President Trump added that re-opening could be limited to “sections” of the country such as “the farm belt”.
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