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Top Biden adviser: Schools on track to open by April

Top Biden adviser: Schools on track to open by April
© Bonnie Cash

A top adviser to President Biden indicated Sunday that the new administration is still hoping to see U.S. schools reopen for in-person learning by April, even in the face of new variants of COVID-19 detected in the U.S.

Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondPadilla has 'big Chuck Taylors to fill' in replacing Harris Bottom line Biden pledges action on guns amid resistance MORE, a senior adviser in the White House, was asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" if the Biden administration is still planning to push for in-person learning by the spring, as opposed to the U.K.'s decision to cancel schools as a result of a fast-spreading variant active within its borders.

"Well, yes," Richmond responded. “We’re going to keep pushing, and getting vaccines to the states."

“We want to make it safe for students, teachers, and families of students and teachers," he continued, adding that funding required to make in-person learning safe, including funding for masks and other personal protective equipment, was waiting to be passed in the White House's COVID-19 stimulus package.

Richmond also confirmed that Biden would sit down with Republicans led by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE (Maine) who released their own priorities for a COVID-19 framework earlier Sunday.

As to whether the Biden administration is open to a smaller stimulus package, including cutting off direct payments to individual Americans at the $50,000 per year income level, Richmond demurred.

"We’re not going to negotiate on TV," Richmond said, noting that "70 percent of Americans support President Biden’s plan" and that the administration is "very serious" about a bill being passed.

Republicans warned Sunday that Democrats should not seek to force a COVID-19 package through the evenly divided Senate without GOP support. Some Democrats have called for the Senate to pass the measure through budget reconciliation, a process that only requires a simple majority, should the GOP refuse to support Democratic priorities.

A plan released by the White House providing another round of COVID-19 stimulus including an extension to unemployment benefits and direct payments to many Americans has a pricetag of about $1.9 trillion.