The Biden administration gave teachers union officials “unprecedented access” to view and shape national COVID-19 guidelines, according to a new interim report by House Republicans.
Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released a report on Wednesday detailing — through obtained emails and testimony — how the Biden administration had consulted with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) on COVID-19 guidelines. Fox News first reported on the release.
The report depicts the “cozy relationship with the Biden administration’s political leadership at the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] positioned the union to impose line-by-line edits,” Republicans wrote in a draft of the report. In granting the AFT the opportunity to view, comment on, and make suggested changes to draft guidance ahead of publication, the CDC broke with its “past practice to keep draft guidance confidential,” the draft continued.
In one instance recorded in the report, AFT senior director of health issues Kelly Trautner emailed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky requesting a line be added to upcoming guidance not yet released to the public. Walensky forwarded the line to CDC Center for Preparedness and Response Director Dr. Henry Walke, and it was included in the guidance the next day.
“In the event high-community transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary,” the added line said.
The GOP report referred to the added line as a “trigger” that caused schools to shut down if COVID-19 cases reached a certain threshold in an area.
“AFT staff asked CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to install a ‘trigger’ in the guidance that would cause schools to close automatically if COVID-19 positivity rates reached a certain threshold. The CDC obliged, and thousands of schools across the country remained closed throughout the 2020-2021 school year,” the report states.
In a February interview with the committee, Walke told lawmakers that the level of coordination between the teachers’ union and CDC was “uncommon.”
Republican Reps. Steve Scalise (LA), the ranking member of the subcommittee, and James Comer (KY) released a joint statement ripping into the Biden administration over the extent of its collusion with the ATF.
“The facts are clear: Biden’s CDC overrode routine practice to allow a radical teachers union that donated millions of dollars to Democrat campaigns to bypass scientific norms and rewrite official agency guidance,” the statement says. “The damaging edits by union bosses effectively kept thousands of schools shuttered across the country, locking millions of children out of their classrooms. The Biden Administration abandoned medical science and replaced it with political science to reward one of their largest donors, harming millions of children in the process. They bypassed the science to put union bosses ahead of children.”
“Millions of Americans are still outraged at what these Washington Democrats put their children through, and all because union bosses demanded they keep schools closed longer,” they continued. “America’s children are suffering, academically and mentally, because of the Biden Administration enabled school closures. Republicans will not rest until we uncover all the facts and hold everyone accountable who was involved in holding back millions of children from having equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”