Schools Grapple With Covid-19 Safety Mandates As CDC Changes Mask Guidance Anti-vax and anti-critical race theory demonstrators cheer for a parent addressing the room during a school board meeting for the Jefferson County Public Schools district in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, according to guidance released today. Photographer: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg / Contributor
Photographer: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

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Emails Call Into Question Origins Of ‘Domestic Terrorist’ Letter

It’s Wednesday, January 12th and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:

1) Emails Call Into Question Origins Of ‘Domestic Terrorist’ Letter

The Topline: In October, a letter from a national school board group was used by the Biden administration to justify the mobilization of the federal government against parents protesting school policies, but newly released emails show the Biden administration may have played a key role in the letter from the beginning.

Photographer: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

Background

In October, a letter was sent by two members of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) comparing parents protesting against classroom policies like Critical Race Theory curriculum and transgender policies to domestic terrorists. 

They suggested, “as these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

But according to a recently uncovered email exchange, the letter at the center of the controversial comparison of protesting parents to domestic terrorists appears to have been solicited by President Biden’s Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona.

The letter asked federal law enforcement to assist local law enforcement, and to use federal law, including the PATRIOT Act, to “examine appropriate enforceable actions.”

After heavy backlash, the NSBA apologized for the language. 

The Department of Justice continued to use the letter, and cited it to justify its own memo mobilizing the FBI. During a committee hearing, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, whether he would rescind the DOJ memo, but Garland refused.

New Information

According to the newly-uncovered email from early October, the NSBA’s Secretary-Treasurer said their interim CEO told officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, following a request by Education Secretary Cardona.

These emails were obtained by the parents group Parents Defending Education in a Freedom of Information Act request. 

Nicole Neily, president and founder of the group, pointed out that the original timeline given was that the NSBA sent a letter which was used to mobilize the FBI and other federal law enforcement against protesting parents. 

However, if Secretary Cardona was as involved as he appears to be, the crusade against parents may have originated from within the Biden administration. This would, as she put it, be a “significant breach of public trust.”

Shawn THEW / POOL / AFP / SHAWN THEW / Contributor via Getty Images

2) Fauci Testifies Before The Senate

The Topline: Top U.S. health officials testified before the Senate on Tuesday amid criticism that their messaging has been confusing and contradictory.

Quote Of The Day: “Dr. Fauci, the idea that a government official like yourself would claim unilaterally to represent science, that any criticism of you would be considered a criticism of science itself, is quite dangerous.”

– Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

The Hearing

The Senate health committee heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and the acting FDA commissioner in a hearing that became heated at several points. Senators asked the officials questions regarding the Biden administration’s handling of Omicron.

The hearing was called in part to get an update on some of the issues in the Biden administration’s pandemic response, such as the nationwide COVID test shortage over the holiday travel season as infections were rising. The Biden administration is promising millions of new at-home tests, but contracts with a manufacturer were not signed until last Friday.

Back-And-Forth

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) rebuked Fauci for claiming to represent “science itself,” and cited emails which he says prove Fauci conspired with a colleague to destroy the reputations of scientists with dissenting opinions, including three prominent epidemiologists at Harvard, Oxford, and Stanford.  

Fauci fired back that Paul was “distorting everything about me,” before accusing him of making personal attacks against him for political purposes instead of focusing on how to tackle the virus.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) also pressed Fauci on gain of function grants, demanding he go on the record with all related documents. After their exchange, Fauci was heard on a hot mic referring to Senator Marshall as “a moron.”  

Fauci also said that there’s an urgent need for a super vaccine, presumably a new COVID vaccine which would be effective against all variants of the virus.

Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News/Contributor via Getty Images

3) Newsom Proposes Healthcare For Illegal Immigrants

The Topline: Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom is proposing a plan for the state to provide healthcare coverage for everyone residing in the state. 

Quote Of The Day: ”California is poised to be, if this proposal is supported, the first state in the country to achieve universal access to health coverage.”

– Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA)

Newsom’s Proposal

Governor Gavin Newsom proposed an expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s health care service for low-income individuals. He wants to provide the entitlement to even more people — including all illegal immigrants. 

California started including illegal immigrants 26 years of age and under in the Medicaid program a few years ago. Last year, it expanded to people 50 years old and up. Newsom is now calling on state legislators to broaden the measure to include all low-income illegal immigrants. The new proposals wouldn’t start until 2024.

Medi-Cal also covers abortions for citizens and noncitizens, all at taxpayer expense.

Tax Implications

It remains unknown how the measure would be paid for, but these types of proposals typically fall on the taxpayers. The entire budget plan would cost $213 billion while the healthcare expansion is said to cost over $2 billion per year.

Assembly members in California are also proposing a state constitutional amendment that could potentially double California’s taxes. The amendment would increase multiple taxes to finance universal single-payer health care coverage, as well as a health care cost control system. According to the Tax Foundation, the average household’s taxes would go up by $12,250. The median household income in California is approximately $80,000.

Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

CPS

After four days of closures, Chicago Schools reopen today after the Chicago Teachers Union reached a deal Monday night with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 

New Poll

A poll from the Associated Press found that Americans are becoming less concerned about COVID, and more concerned about the economy. This month, 37% of Americans named the virus as among their top 5 issues, down from 53% one year ago. By contrast, 68% of respondents named the economy as a top issue, including 14% who said inflation was a top concern, up from 1% who were concerned about inflation last year.

Government Sues Murderers 

The federal government is suing convicted murderers, including the Boston Marathon Bomber, for receiving COVID stimulus money, which the government says should not have gone to the inmates, and should instead go towards victim restitution. In March, Senate Republicans attempted to include an amendment which would block imprisoned felons from receiving COVID stimulus funds, but the amendment failed on a party line vote. 

Flights Canceled

Flight cancellations continued this week, with United Airlines being forced to cut more flights as a result of around 3,000 of its employees calling in sick.

Pig Heart Transplant

A 57-year-old man in Maryland became the first-ever patient to receive a heart transplant from a genetically modified pig. The eight-hour operation took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center on Friday, and as of Monday the patient was doing well with no signs of organ rejection. Heart valves harvested from pigs have been successfully used in humans for over three decades

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