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The Biden administration has threatened to withdraw Covid’s money from Arizona over school mask prevention policies

First Lady Jill Biden of the United States talks to people on June 30, 2021 during a tour of the COVID-19 vaccination site at Isaac Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona.

Carolyn Custer | Pool | Reuters

The Biden administration on Friday threatened to cancel millions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid to Arizona and accused it of using funds to undermine efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

Republican Governor Doug Ducey’s office says it will take 60 days to change two federally-sponsored public school programs totaling $ 173 million or divert funds to “qualified use.” Said in a letter.

The program imposes conditions that discourage wearing masks at school, which is inconsistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to reduce coronavirus infection, the letter said.

If Arizona fails or refuses to meet the Treasury’s request, the Biden administration may regain its stimulating funding and withhold a second tranche of pandemic bailout funds, the Treasury said.

Ducey’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on CNBC’s letter.

Federal funding in dispute comes from the Coronavirus and Local Finance Recovery Fund programs, or SLFRF, a $ 350 billion chunk of a trillion-dollar Covid relief package, whose president is called the U.S. Rescue Program. Joe Biden Signed the law last year..

The fund “aims to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 public health emergencies, including supporting efforts to stop the spread of the virus,” the Treasury said. He said in a letter to Ducey’s Strategic Planning and Budget Department.

However, two Arizona school programs have used federal funding to “weaken efforts to stop the COVID-19 epidemic and adhere to evidence-based solutions to stop the COVID-19 epidemic. Imposing conditions on participation or acceptance of services that are blocked. ” The letter said.

The $ 163 Million Education Plus Up Grant ProgramFor example, the Treasury writes that it only allows funding to schools that do not enforce mask requirements.

The Other programs in questionA total of $ 10 million will provide grants to help parents move their children out of schools that are considered to impose “unnecessary closures and school obligations.”

According to a letter from the Treasury, the program is “only available to families if the student’s current or previous school requires the use of a face cover.”

The latest letter sent by Kathleen Victorino, Deputy Chief Compliance Officer, Treasury Department of Recovery Programs, comes after many round trips between the Biden administration and Arizona.

In October, the Treasury asked Arizona to explain how to fix the problems identified in the two school programs.

The state responded a month later, detailing the rationale for the mask prevention conditions, but “did not explain plans to remedy the identified problems,” Victorino wrote.

The latest battle for Covid’s safety rules is due to the unprecedented proliferation of highly contagious variants of Omicron. The US Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the enforcement of the Byden administration’s rule that employees of large companies be vaccinated or tested weekly, but the High Court left the vaccination obligations on health care workers.

But the controversy precedes Omicron. Last year, a Republican-controlled legislature in Arizona sought to pass a clause banning mask obligations and other Covid security measures. November, State Supreme Court We ruled that those measures were passed illegally..

— — Tom Frank of CNBC contributed to this report.

The Biden administration has threatened to withdraw Covid’s money from Arizona over school mask prevention policies

Source link The Biden administration has threatened to withdraw Covid’s money from Arizona over school mask prevention policies

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