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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 RichmondBiden to announce executive action on ghost guns, red flag laws Biden expected to announce executive action on guns Biden adviser clashes with Peacock host: 'Clearly you have health insurance' 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 CollinsAgainst mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings 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.