Feb 23, 2021
Republicans say Biden COVID package pays off teachers union ‘ransom note’
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Senate Republicans condemned President Biden’s latest COVID relief package as a partisan "liberal wish list" during Tuesday’s press conference, but school funding is receiving the most backlash.
"Schools all across America ought to be open right now," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters. "And yet Joe Biden has surrendered to the teachers union, they sent him a ransom note and he was happy to pay it."
The push to get kids back in the classroom nationwide has increasingly driven the coronavirus debate in recent weeks.
PSAKI PRESSED ON COVID BILL SETTING ASIDE MOST SCHOOL FUNDS FOR AFTER 2021
Biden pledged to get schools reopened within the first 100 days of his presidency. But the White House raised eyebrows earlier this month, after announcing that getting kids back in the classroom for even one day a week would be considered a success.
Republicans are now pushing back on the $128 billion set aside for K-12 schools in Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan – a package that GOP leadership said is bloated and stacked with demands that "have absolutely nothing to do with COVID relief."
"The amount they spent on public health only constitutes about 10 percent of the entire $1.9 trillion," GOP Whip, Sen. John Thune said Tuesday.
"Ninety-five percent of the money that they put towards education wouldn’t be spent until after 2021," he continued, noting the funds would be spent over a period of seven years starting in 2022. "Hardly seems like an emergency," he added.
Thune also pointed to the $68 billion that was allocated for school funding in the last coronavirus relief package, of which only $4 billion has been utilized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that it is safe to get kids back in the classroom as long as certain safety precautions are met.
But several teachers unions have continued to push back, with teachers refusing to end virtual learning until they can be vaccinated.
The adverse side effects of at-home learning are not only harming children’s academic prowess, mental health and social skills, but women are increasingly dropping from the workforce in order to pick up the slack in their children’s education.
"Two hundred and seventy-five thousand women left the workforce in January," Vice Chair of the Senate Republican Conference, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said Tuesday. "This is something that we can’t continue to sustain."
BIDEN STILL HAS NOT YET SCHEDULED A DATE FOR FIRST ADDRESS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS
"It is because their children…in many of those cases, are not in school," she explained. "They’re stepping aside and they’re putting their own goals to the rear, and putting their children first."
Ernst said the damage that is being done to working women is irreversible, as their careers and income will be permanently hindered by even their temporary withdrawal from the workforce.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he does not believe a single Republican in the upper chamber will support the bill and called on Biden to ensure that the package is passed in a bipartisan fashion.
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The bill is expected to be voted on in the House this Friday, before heading to the Senate, where it will likely be passed, as long as it maintains the support of every Democrat.
Sam Dorman contributed to this report.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci Wouldnt Hesitate to Get the JJ Vaccine
Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House press briefing, at the White House on January 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty ImagesLet our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, encouraged Americans not to hesitate to receive the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine that the FDA authorized for use on Saturday. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine prevented severe illness and hospitalization in trials, but its overall efficacy was 72 percent in the United States, whereas the clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed higher efficacy rates. This raises concerns of vaccine hesitancy for the newest vaccine, which will be rolled out over the coming months with initial shipments expected as early as next week.
“The message that needs to prevail, Dana, is that these are three highly efficacious vaccines,” Fauci told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union Sunday. Fauci said that if he weren’t already vaccinated, “and I had a choice of getting a J&J vaccine now or waiting for another vaccine, I would take whatever vaccine would be available to me as quickly as possible.”
Dr. Fauci addresses the concerns about the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine and how effective it is compared to the other vaccines available: “The message that needs to prevail, Dana, is that these are three highly efficacious vaccines.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/FMuH8b0whf
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 28, 2021
Fauci took the same message to other Sunday shows, urging Americans to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and speed up vaccination rates overall, rather than trying to hold out for a different vaccine. He further emphasized that it’s hard to compare efficacy rates across different studies, because they were conducted under different circumstances.
He cautioned that states beginning to ease lockdown restrictions are doing so prematurely, and he fears that infection rates will begin to tick up yet again. Premature reopening, he said, was “really risky” and would put us “right back on the road to rebounding.”
As governors across the country begin to ease some coronavirus restrictions, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he thinks the efforts are premature: “It is really risky to say, ‘It’s over. We’re on our way out. Let’s pull back.’” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/rKLzd6ft54
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 28, 2021