While this probably won’t come as new information for most regular readers, dozens of Republicans in the House of Representatives have issued a formal declaration to President Joe Biden, calling on him to “follow the science” and begin reopening the nation’s schools immediately rather than listening to the instructions of special interest groups. The effort was headed up by Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri. The “special interests” he and his colleagues are referring to are the nation’s teachers’ unions. And while I applaud these members for highlighting the issue and at least making the effort, I’m not going to get my hopes up in terms of Biden actually listening. (Free Beacon)
A group of 66 House Republicans accused President Joe Biden of rejecting the scientific consensus that schools can safely reopen, a move they say harms American children.
Led by Rep. Jason Smith (R., Mo.), the lawmakers sent Biden a Thursday letter urging him to “follow the science” by pushing state and local leaders across the U.S. to reopen schools. The letter notes that there is “little evidence to show in-person instruction in classrooms contributes to the spread of COVID-19,” citing a January study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It also criticizes the Biden administration for contradicting top government scientists. After CDC director Rochelle Walensky said there are “increasing data to suggest that schools can reopen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the comment, claiming Walensky “spoke in her personal capacity.”
The very public exposure of Joe Biden’s lack of backbone on this subject must be a source of embarrassment. We all heard about how Biden’s plan was to have the schools reopened during his first 100 days. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Jen Psaki was dispatched to the briefing room to “clarify” that position. Now they’re shooting for having half of the schools open for maybe one day per week.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened in the intervening period. Somebody picked up the phone and reminded the new president that the teachers’ unions were not on board with the plan and wanted the schools to remain closed. And Uncle Joe took a lot of their money during his presidential campaign. They expect to be paid back. This issue is very similar to another policy fight we discussed earlier today. The nation’s labor unions want to cancel the right-to-work laws that have been passed in 27 states. They too have a leash on Joe Biden, so he’ll almost certainly endorse the plan, no matter how many jobs and employers wind up being erased.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has been making the rounds and laying out their demands for what it will take to “safely reopen the schools.” She tries to talk a good game, saying that her members want the schools reopened just as much as anyone else. I have no doubt that at least some of the teachers really do feel that way. But Weingarten’s list of demands includes items such as vaccinating everyone before they reenter the buildings. She knows that can’t be done any time soon.
It must really sting for Joe Biden to have a group of sitting congressional members tell him to “follow the science” after all the complaining he did about Donald Trump using the very same words. As you likely know, Biden’s head of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, already stated that the evidence indicates that the schools can start fully reopening. That led to yet another awkward moment for Jen Psaki when she had to go in front of the White House press corps and say that Walensky was “speaking in her personal capacity.”
That explanation was complete malarkey, of course, but what other choice did Biden have? When it comes to the issue of returning the nation’s children to school, Joe Biden isn’t calling the shots. Randi Weingarten is.