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Democrats rebuke White House over possibly directing virus aid away from public schools

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's apparent proposal that future coronavirus aid for schools be tied to students, rather than school districts, has drawn rebukes from key Democrats.

"He wants to increase funding in CARES four for education, but he's looking at potentially redirecting that to make sure it goes to the student, and it is most likely tied to the student and not to a district where schools are closed," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

"CARES four" refers to the expended next assistance package as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the country.

"He wants them to reopen altogether. He wants students to be welcomed back to these schools," McEnany said.

The Trump administration has made no secret of wanting to pressure schools to be open for students this fall, but McEnany's comments point to another potential objective.

"He thinks that funding should go to the child. It should be there for children who are going to school," said the press secretary, who also criticized "teachers unions who want to keep these schools closed."

 

The White House, the coronavirus task force, the Department of Education and the Office of Management and Budget did not offer specifics on how the funds might be tied to students, but no one reached by CQ Roll Call would rule out the idea of funds flowing to private and parochial schools.

Democrats, predictably, are not on board with any plan that could involve the Trump administration redirecting aid away from public school systems.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chairwoman of the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement that she would oppose any privatization efforts.

"Again, the Executive Branch seems to have forgotten who holds the power of the purse," the Connecticut Democrat said. "Instead of threatening to strip funding from the children and families who need it the most, I and my fellow House Democrats are working hard to provide schools with the resources they need to safely reopen."

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