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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday asked wealthy institutions to reject coronavirus emergency funding and requested that Congress change its eligibility requirements.

The big picture: Her statement comes one day after President Trump said Harvard University should pay back the $8.7 million in federal money it was due to receive from the Education Department via the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Driving the news: Harvard announced Wednesday it will return the funds. The university said "it did not apply for this support, nor has it requested, received or accessed these funds."

"We are concerned that intense focus by politicians & others on Harvard in connection with the program may undermine participation in a relief effort Congress created & the president signed into law for the purpose of helping those whose financial challenges may be most severe."
— Harvard said in a statement

What DeVos is saying:

"Schools with large endowments should not apply for funds so more can be given to students who need support the most. It’s also important for Congress to change the law to make sure no more taxpayer funds go to elite, wealthy institutions."
— per a statement Wednesday

The state of play: The coronavirus relief package allocated about $14 billion to colleges and universities. Higher education has taken a financial hit from the pandemic, closing campuses and laying off employees.

  • In early April, DeVos sent a letter asking college and university presidents to consider allocating stimulus dollars to their states and regions that are in need rather than their institutions.
  • Stanford University said Tuesday it would not collect the $7.4 million it was due to receive under the CARES Act.

Note: Axios qualified for a loan under this program. More details here.

Go deeper

Jul 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Where coronavirus stimulus talks stand

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Capitol Hill. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

The consensus within the White House over the weekend is that they should turn their attention toward passing a smaller, bifurcated stimulus bill, focused on their main priorities.

The state of play: Chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were discouraged after their meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday, GOP congressional aides involved in the negotiations told Axios.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

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