Teachers union launches $500K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill

Teachers union launches $500K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill
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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second largest teachers union in the U.S., launched a $500,000 ad campaign Monday accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) of stonewalling funds to help schools to reopen safely.

The six-figure buy comes as negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill, which is expected to include funding for K-12 schools, have all but collapsedPresident TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE’s unilateral action to extend relief over the weekend, which aimed to break the gridlock, did not include education funding.

AFT’s ads launching Monday will run online for one week in the Washington, D.C., media market on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. They will launch nationally as TV ads on CNN beginning Wednesday.

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The 15-second ad cuts between a clip of McConnell calling for a pause in relief bill negotiations earlier this year and news reports about the virus. A 30-second version includes clips of Trump administration officials calling for schools to reopen and testimony from teachers who say they feel unsafe going to school.

“This virus pauses for no one,” the narrator in the ad says. “Pass a comprehensive coronavirus relief package now.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement accused McConnell of hypocrisy in calling for schools to reopen.

“For more than two months, Mitch McConnell and the White House have been shouting that they want schools and the economy to reopen, while shamefully sitting on their hands and refusing to act on an actual relief package,” Weingarten said.

“Signing executive orders that don’t address our real needs, including support for schools and child care, while effectively cutting unemployment and threatening Social Security, is a cynical and cruel political ploy,” she added.

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McConnell has not been part of the current negotiations over a coronavirus-relief package. Those talks, which have since stalled, involve Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Vulnerable Democrats tell Pelosi COVID-19 compromise 'essential' MORE, White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsWhite House chief of staff knocks FBI director over testimony on election fraud Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Pelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' MORE, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Overnight Health Care: New wave of COVID-19 cases builds in US | Florida to lift all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars | Trump stirs questions with 0 drug coupon plan Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish MORE (N.Y.).

As the Trump administration and Republicans have urged schools to reopen in person this fall, AFT and activist groups have pushed back, raising concerns over teacher and student safety.

Last week, AFT authorized its members to go on strike if schools do not provide certain safeguards for teachers against the coronavirus, including comprehensive contact tracing, mandatory masking, and updated ventilation systems.

McConnell included $105 billion to help schools reopen in his initial $1 trillion proposal in late July, well short of the $175 billion proposed by Senate Democrats in late June to purchase protective equipment, keep students spaced apart in classrooms and improve virtual learning.

Many districts have already reversed plans to reopen in person, moving to remote learning temporarily or for the long term. Several districts that already started their school years have had to quarantine students or move to online learning.

AFT previously purchased $1 million in ads urging senators to approve the House-passed HEROES Act in June.