AFT President Randi Weingarten Responds to Congressional Agreement on the Latest Round of COVID-19 Relief
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after congressional negotiators reached a deal on coronavirus relief:
“While this deal is both too late and not perfect, it is a necessary lifeline that we support. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others’ refusal to help address the needs of states and localities, which have been America’s frontline since COVID-19 erupted, is a bitter pill.
“Since the pandemic took hold in early March, 8 million more people in the United States have been plunged into poverty. Demand at food banks is up 60 percent. Millions of Americans remain unemployed, and as healthcare workers face unprecedented COVID-19 cases, educators work around the clock to meet the needs of their students, all while facing diminished state budgets, chaotic safety protocols and increased concerns about vaccine and testing availability.
“And with the life-sustaining benefits provided by the CARES Act set to expire, it’s not a moment too soon. If passed, this emergency aid would invest much-needed resources into our public schools for testing, cleaning, PPE, ventilation upgrades and other safety guardrails, as well as baseline budget appropriations of $16.5 billion for Title I and $14.1 billion for special education, so educators can help address the social and emotional well-being and academic needs of their students.
“These resources are vital to reopening school buildings safely—and, in turn, to help get people back to work safely as well. As we wait for the Biden-Harris administration to take charge of recovery efforts and continue our work to secure more funding for our cities, states and communities, Congress should pass this critical relief to ease the suffering of America’s families.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.