95% of COVID relief money for schools ‘won’t even start to be spent until 2022 … spending until 2028’

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso told Fox News Radio on Tuesday money ostensibly earmarked in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill to reopen schools actually doesn’t begin to be spent until the 2022 fiscal year.

In ripping the legislation, Barrasso, head of the Senate Republican Conference, said the money obviously is not tied to getting schools open again amid the lingering pandemic, since it “won’t even start to be getting spent until 2022, when the pandemic is over.”

He added: “It runs with spending until 2028.”

A Republican analysis found last week that the delay in spending means that reopening schools may even be pushed back until 2023, despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said it is already safe to opening them to in-person classes.

“The Democrats are not tying the money for education to getting kids back in school. That is the critical issue, getting kids back to school,” Barrasso said.  

“But the Democrats have gotten completely — they’ve fallen in line behind the teachers’ union and our kids are falling behind because they’re not in the classroom. … 95 percent won’t even start to be getting spent until 2022, when the pandemic is over. It runs with spending until 2028. We need to get the kids in the classroom now,” he added.

The analysis by the Republican Study Committee noted that the Biden administration is already flush with cash from a previous COVID relief bill; some $1 trillion has yet to be spent even though the money has been approved for nearly a year. That includes $112 billion for small businesses, though it’s unclear why that money is still sitting around.

As for the new relief bill, the Congressional Budget Office said it earmarks “$128.6 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for preparation for, prevention of, and response to the coronavirus pandemic or for other uses allowed by other federal education programs.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the administration’s chief medical adviser, and CDC chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky, have both said that the current relief package must be passed in order for schools to open now.

However, the spending schedule, according to Barrasso and the GOP analysis, makes it apparent the money isn’t the issue since it won’t be spent for at least another year and maybe longer.

“Do parents have to wait until 2023 or later to send their kids back to school?” Mark Bednar, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, told the Washington Examiner.

The outlet noted last week that public schools have already received $112 billion in taxpayer-funded relief money.

In addition to school spending, “Democrats are aiming to pass a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, taxpayer-funded bailouts to unfunded multiemployer pension plans, bailouts for poorly managed states, and an increase to federal unemployment insurance supplement payments to $400 per week on top of regular benefits,” The Daily Signal reported last week.

Notes the RSC’s analysis, “Congress has delivered bipartisan COVID relief as recently as December 2020. Why then is it that the moment Democrats get the reins of power, we suddenly need to urgently pass $1.9 trillion more?”

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Jon Dougherty

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