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57 Republicans take to House floor in push to reopen schools

57 Republicans take to House floor in push to reopen schools
© Greg Nash

Dozens of House Republicans lined up on the House floor Tuesday to call for a vote on GOP-backed legislation that would tie school funding to reopening plans.

The effort, led by first-term lawmaker Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), came as House lawmakers were set to debate the rule for a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that's expected to pass along party lines Wednesday.

"I seek unanimous consent to call up  H.R. 682, the Reopen Schools Act, to get our kids out from behind screens and back in the classroom," Hinson said.

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Fifty-six of her GOP colleagues followed by making the same request; all were unsuccessful.

The legislation would condition school funding on whether they have a plan to reopen.

Republicans have railed against the coronavirus aid package, saying it should allocate more resources for school reopenings. They have also blasted President BidenJoe BidenSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE, arguing his administration has not moved quickly enough to get children back in the classroom. 

“Today, my colleagues and I once again asked Democrats to prioritize the education, mental health and wellbeing of students across this country and consider the Reopen Schools Act,” Hinson said in a statement to The Hill.

“Once again, they rejected this common-sense effort that would help students and teachers get back in the classroom safely. Republicans will keep fighting for our students and I hope Democrats will stop playing politics and join us.”

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseGOP braces for wild week with momentous vote House Republican: Cheney has 'failed' GOP conference Trump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority MORE (R-La.) argued that experts have said with the proper precautions, schools can safely reopen.

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“The science says that the schools should be open now, every school should be open, teaching kids in the classroom. And every day they refuse to do that, it's setting those kids back even further. Millions of American kids are being denied the ability to learn and to be able to compete. And the science is clear that the schools should be reopened,” he said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

“Again, we put more money, Ashley Hinson's bill was offered up during the process of moving this bill forward, to say if schools get more money, it has to be to reopen so that kids could be learning in the classroom, and it was rejected by every Democrat. Which begs the question, what do they need this money for, if it's not to reopen schools during this pandemic?”

While some parts of the country have begun re-opening schools, efforts to move from virtual learning to full-time in classroom teaching has encountered pushback from a number of teachers' unions, who argue the pandemic still poses health risks to both school staff and students.