House GOP Demands Investigation of Teachers’ Unions’ ‘Influence’ on CDC’s School Guidelines

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

House Republican members are demanding an investigation into the massive “influence” teachers’ unions had over the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines and the timeline for reopening schools.

The group of Republicans wrote to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky as reports come of “troubling” news Democrat special interest groups had shown major “influence CDC guidance on school re-opening for in-person education.” The members believe even though the guidelines for the CDC are to be kept “free from political meddling,” the reports have shown otherwise.

The letter was signed by three top Republicans, Rep. Jim Jordan (OH), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member; Rep. James Comer (KY), Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member; and Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC), Committee on Education and Labor Ranking Member. 

“[R]ecently released emails reportedly show that the CDC has been taking its cues from teachers’ unions instead of following the science, the group wrote. The ranking members continued, “This political interference has resulted in months-long delays in the reopening of schools to the detriment of American children,” which goes against Biden’s previous intentions, to “‘be led by health and medical experts’ and his promise to open ‘a majority of K-8 schools . . . in [the Biden Administration’s first] 100 days.'”

The Republicans reference an email from Americans for Public Trust (APT), in which CDC officials and Walensky had been “in regular contact with” APT for multiple “weeks leading up to the CDC issuing guidance for the re-opening of schools on February 12, 2021.” The CDC has now acknowledged, after the new guidelines were announced, “AFT and other special interest unions, like the National Education Association, with nonpublic” were able to draft different copies of “guidance for their feedback.”

The group has pointed out in the emails obtained the CDC was not “working toward re-opening schools safely,” but has reportedly shown “the CDC was ‘commit[ed] to partnership’ with the AFT to ‘earn [their] confidence.'”

The House Republicans continued:

Changes to the CDC guidance made at the request of the AFT appear to depart from the established science, which the CDC and Biden Administration claim to follow. For instance, late last year professors from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health argued that “it’s past time we recognize that kids are different [than adults when it comes to COVID-19 transmission] and the importance of schools is different, especially for the youngest learners.” These public health experts further argued that “[t]he risks from covid-19 in schools are manageable. The risks to kids being out of school, however, are escalating rapidly.”

Similarly, the CDC itself has recognized that “[s]everal studies from international settings published in the fall of 2020 reported low levels of transmission with 1 meter (approximately 3.28 feet) between students in schools. . . .” In light of the apparent scientific consensus that it is possible for students to safely return to school with certain minimal precautions, the CDC was reportedly “preparing to [recommend] that schools could provide in-person instruction regardless of community spread of the virus. . . .” However, the CDC instead yielded to the AFT’s political demands, including that the CDC recommend certain teachers be allowed to opt out of in-person teaching regardless of whether they had been vaccinated and the prevalence of COVID-19 in their respective communities.

The Republicans reiterated how Biden and his administration have failed to keep their promises, which he was elected to do. Biden said he would “re-open schools within 100 days of his Administration” and “follow the science regarding COVID-19.” But the interplay between the CDC and teachers’ unions suggest that Biden is aligned solely with the Democrats’ special interest groups instead of keeping promises to American children.

As was recently reported by Breitbart News, there is a growing list of Biden administration officials who have been able to request waivers from ethics rules that would otherwise bar them from being lobbied by their former union.

Conveniently, the Biden administration has been relying “heavily on labor union personnel to fill vacancies within his administration, which in turn helps drive policy in their favor.” Biden gave the unions a huge voice within the federal bureaucracy “at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.”

A spokesperson told Axios, “President Biden has stood strong for unions throughout his career, and he’s proud to have leading labor voices in the White House and throughout his administration helping to enact that agenda.”

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