WASHINGTON (WFLA) — Sen. Rick Scott slammed the Biden administration on Tuesday, criticizing the White House for not fully reopening schools as the coronavirus pandemic rages on across the country.
“In four weeks, the Biden administration has been known for two things: open borders and closed schools,” the Florida Republican said.
The back-to-school debate has been brewing in Washington as lawmakers and administration officials have worked to figure out when kids should get back into classrooms. The White House has faced heavy criticism in past weeks, accused of not having a direct answer to the question.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week President Joe Biden is “committed to reopening schools five days a week as quickly as possible.” And Biden has said his goal was to reopen schools within his first 100 days in office.
But Republicans, like Scott’s fellow Floridian Sen. Marco Rubio, have said they still don’t know the president’s position. Rubio tweeted a video last week of White House staff avoiding the question.
The video ended with the message, “Quit dodging. Send kids back to school.”
Scott said Tuesday the CDC has said schools can be opened safely, but did not cite specific guidance.
“First they said that they had to follow the science to open up the schools. Well, the CDC has said we can open these schools safely,” Scott said.
The CDC has said that teachers don’t necessarily need to be vaccinated in order for schools to safely reopen.
In addition, guidance released last week outlined a new “Operational Strategy” for K-12 schools to help communities reopen schools safely based on case rates in the community. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized those new guidelines, saying they were based on politics, not science.
While criticizing those CDC guidelines, DeSantis also scoffed at the money Biden has proposed to put toward reopening schools safely in his COVID-19 relief package. Sen. Scott slammed the bill as well, saying that Congress allocated $68 billion for K-12 education last year.
In his “American Rescue Plan,” Biden refers to the money passed last year as just a “down payment for schools.” According to the White House website’s page on the relief plan, the proposed bill would provide $130 billion to help schools reduce class sizes, improve ventilation, provide personal protective equipment and other mitigation measures.
“It’s just basically Democrats and the teachers union don’t care about our students,” Sen. Scott said Tuesday. “In the new bill, they want to spend over $120 billion and 95% of it will not be spent this year to open schools. It’ll be spent in the future to open schools. So this new stimulus package is not going to do anything to open our schools, they need to decide to open our schools.”
Scott also took a swipe at the Biden administration for not putting money toward protecting the U.S. border.
“Also on top of that, there’s no money to secure our border,” he said. “So Democrats don’t care about our families’ safety and they clearly don’t care about our kids’ education.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there will be a vote on the next coronavirus relief package by the end of this week.