Senate Republicans target Democrats over school reopenings in new campaign

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The Senate Republican campaign arm is going after Democrats in new ads hitting them over school reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The new 15-second digital spot from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is targeting Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock (Ga.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Catherine Cortez Masto (N.M.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.), all of whom are up for reelection next year. The ad highlights questions over the White House’s plans to reopen schools, a topic where the GOP believes it can go on the offensive.

“Classrooms are among the safest places in the country for children and teachers and the consequences of keeping children away from in-person learning are incalculable. In the face of overwhelming evidence, Senate Democrats refuse to take a stand against the union bosses and support reopening our schools. They’ve gone completely mute. The question every American should be asking is, ‘why does our Senator fight for teachers unions instead of our kids?’” said NRSC chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.).

The NRSC did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding how much money is going into the ad campaign and on what platforms the clip will be featured. Top platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Google have curtailed political advertising on their websites.

While Democrats, lobbied heavily by teachers’ unions, have taken a cautious stance on reopening schools, Republicans have advocated for a more aggressive approach.

The GOP’s criticism of President Biden on the topic ramped up when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this month it is “critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible,” given the benefits of in-person learning. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky also earlier said that “the science has demonstrated that schools can reopen safely prior to all teachers being vaccinated” for the coronavirus.

The White House has sent out mixed signals on how it plans to send students back into the classroom on a consistent basis. President Biden clarified at a town hall Tuesday that his goal is to have the majority of elementary and middle schools physically reopened five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office. 

The Biden administration had previously said its goal was to have most schools open for at least one day of in-person learning each week, though critics noted that the goal had largely already been reached. 

Democrats have pushed back on the GOP’s criticism, noting that Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — which Republicans view skeptically — includes $130 billion for local school districts. 

“Republicans mismanaged the response to this pandemic and still won’t give schools and teachers the resources and support they need to reopen safely, which is exactly what Democrats are working to do while GOP senators play political games,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Stewart Boss.

Tags 2022 2022 election 2022 midterm elections Catherine Cortez Masto Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus restrictions Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Joe Biden Maggie Hassan Mark Kelly Michael Bennet National Republican Senatorial Committee Raphael Warnock Rick Scott Rochelle Walensky school reopenings Tammy Duckworth

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