Rep. Kevin McCarthy voted against the COVID relief plan, which provides funding to make it possible for schools to safely return to in-person instruction.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanded on Thursday that President Joe Biden lay out a plan to return students to in-person learning. The California Republican voted against such a plan just two weeks ago.
As Biden prepared to hold his first formal press conference, McCarthy tweeted some "Qs for President Biden on education."
"1. Students deserve to be in school 5 days a week. What is your admin doing to ensure children get the education they deserve?" McCarthy asked. "2. Will you call on teachers unions to follow the science and CDC guidance to allow for 3 ft of distancing?"
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, McCarthy has been trying for months to make his demand for an immediate return to full in-person learning a wedge issue.
"Our kids are struggling, Mr. President. Enough is enough: we need to reopen our schools," he tweeted on Feb. 25.
But his concerted push has swayed few votes. A Morning Consult/Politico poll in February found 55% of American voters did not want to reopen schools until teachers had received coronavirus vaccinations, while 34% preferred to reopen schools immediately.
Navigator Research found earlier this month that, by a 47% to 32% margin, more Americans trusted Biden and Democrats to make determinations about "how and when to reopen schools" than trusted Republicans to do so. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed sided more with those who want to make sure schools reopen "the right way for the safety of students" than with those who "want to reopen schools immediately."
Biden said in December, "It should be a national priority to get our kids back into school and keep them in school."
"If Congress provides the funding, we need to protect students, educators, and staff," he said. "If states and cities put strong public health measures in place that we all follow, then my team will work to see that the majority of our schools can be open by the end of my first 100 days."
Earlier this month, Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, providing more than $125 billion in funding for measures to make it possible for schools to safely return to in-person instruction.
McCarthy, who called the plan "the most progressive bill" in U.S. history, voted against it and successfully convinced his entire GOP minority caucus to do the same.
Despite GOP claims made well before the first 100 days of his term were even up that Biden had broken his promise, the president noted on Thursday that he is on pace to deliver on it.
Noting that he had aimed to get a majority of K-8 schools fully open for in-person instruction within the first 100 days, he told reporters that nearly half of those schools now are are open five days a week.
Biden acknowledged, "Not yet a majority, but we're really close, and I believe in the 35 days left to go, we'll meet that goal as well."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.