Arizona risks losing federal aid over anti-mask mandate rules

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The Biden administration is threatening to withhold COVID-19 aid funds and claw again previous aid from Arizona as a result of it says the state is utilizing the cash to undermine federal steering about masks in colleges.

The Treasury Department despatched a letter to Arizona officers on Friday warning that the state has 60 days to revamp two present packages that include anti-masking provisions.

Federal officers argue the 2 packages are designed to direct funding away from college districts which have launched masks mandates according to the CDC’s steering.

Republican Gov. Doug Ducey rolled out the 2 packages late final 12 months amid a dispute with the Biden administration over how the state might use the $4.2 billion it was awarded below the 2021 coronavirus aid invoice.

Under the primary program, districts that require masks in colleges are at present ineligible to obtain any of the $163 million in funding below Arizona’s Education Plus-Up Grant Program.

The state’s separate $10 million COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit Program supplies as much as $7,000 in vouchers to assist households depart districts if their baby’s college requires face masks.

A stimulus check.
The Treasury Department despatched the letter to state officers on Friday, Jan. 14.
REUTERS

The Treasury Department argues that the way in which Arizona’s college packages are at present structured is an “ineligible” use of the federal pandemic aid.

“By discouraging families and school districts from following (the CDC’s) guidance, the conditions referenced above undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the Treasury Department wrote in its letter.

Treasury officers stated they’ll begin recovering the federal aid cash Arizona has already been despatched, and can withhold the following lot of aid, if the state doesn’t amend the provisions.

Arizona has already obtained about half of the $4.2 billion the state was awarded below President Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package deal.

Two young boys wait to receive their COVID vaccines in Phoenix in Nov. 2021.
Two younger boys wait to obtain their COVID vaccines in Phoenix in Nov. 2021.
AP

Gov. Ducey slammed the Biden administration on Friday, saying the threats to withhold aid from his state was “latest example of a President that is completely out of touch with the American people.”

“When it comes to education, President Biden wants to continue focusing on masks. In Arizona, we’re going to focus on math and getting kids caught up after a year of learning loss,” he tweeted.

“We will respond to this letter, and we will continue to focus on things that matter to Arizonans. President Biden should do the same, and he can start by addressing the crisis at the border.”

Gov. Ducey is amongst a handful of GOP governors who’ve ripped Biden over federal masks, testing or vaccine mandates all through the pandemic.

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