EXCLUSIVE: Leading Republicans on House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Wednesday called for an investigation into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after emails showed the country’s second-largest teachers’ union lobbied the agency on policies to reopen schools.
Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee James Comer, R-Ky., And Ranking Member of the House Education and Labor Committee , Virginia Foxx, RN.C. wrote a letter to the CDC accusing them of putting “political obedience to Democratic-aligned special interest groups” before “the youth of our nation.”
Lawmakers have demanded that the agency publish all correspondence “between or among employees, contractors and representatives of the CDC and representatives of any teachers’ union” since President Biden took office, citing emails that show regular correspondence between the government agency and the American Federation of Teachers.
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The letter said CDC officials have until May 26 to grant their request and reveal the extent of “the influence of these special interest groups on CDC policy.”
“President Biden has pledged to reopen schools within 100 days of his administration. He also pledged to follow the science regarding COVID-19,” the letter read. “Your political obedience to Democrat-aligned special interest groups breaks both of these promises.
The letter refers to a recent “troubling” report that shows numerous emails between senior CDC officials and the union just days before the Biden administration issued guidelines to reopen schools in February.
In an email, Kelly Trautner, Senior Director for Health Issues with AFT, thanked the CDC for “Friday’s rich discussion of CDC’s next directions and for your openness to suggestions made by our president, Randi Weingarten. , and AFT. “
“We were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide initial feedback to several staff members this morning on possible ways to strengthen the document,” added Trautner. “We believe that our experiences on the ground can inform and enrich thinking about what is practicable and prudent in future guidance documents.”
The lobbying efforts were reportedly successful as the Post found at least two instances where “suggestions” were used almost verbatim in the CDC guidelines.
The CDC was prepared to allow education in schools regardless of transmission rates. But at the union’s suggestion, the guidelines were adjusted to include a provision saying, “In cases of strong community transmission of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a further update of these guidelines may be necessary.” “
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The union further demanded that teachers be granted access to remote work for those “who have documented conditions of high risk or who are at increased risk”. Similar provisions have been included for “staff whose household member” is considered to be at high risk for the virus.
The emails appear to dismiss the CDC’s claim that the school’s reopening guidelines were drafted without political considerations, lawmakers write.
“Despite your claim that the CDC’s advice is free from ‘political interference,’ recently published emails show that the CDC has taken inspiration from teachers’ unions instead of following science. This political interference has resulted in delays of several months in opening schools to the detriment of American children. “
ATF president Randi Weingarten defended the correspondence in a tense exchange with “The Story” host Martha MacCallum earlier this week, where she claimed the union was in contact with the agency because, at the time, the country was facing “the variations that were at that time, that kept the schools in Britain closed … and we were concerned about that.”
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“You can see why that would make people think you all have a lot of muscle in the White House when it comes to reopening our schools,” MacCallum countered.
“We have gone from ‘trusting science’ to ‘trusting teachers’ unions,” Rep. Jordan told Fox News on Wednesday night. “My understanding is that this happened not even three weeks after the start of the Biden administration. You got a call one Sunday from the AFT leader at the CDC … this is how much access the unions have to administration and what they are working on. “
In a statement to Fox News, AFT admitted to having been “in regular contact with agencies establishing policies that affect their work and their lives, including the CDC.”
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.
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