Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hammered teachers unions on Sunday for refusing to go back to work after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released guidance saying that schools can safely reopen.
Christie appeared on ABC’s “This Week” panel and engaged in a heated discussion with other panelists on reopening schools and President Joe Biden’s proposed coronavirus relief bill. (RELATED: ‘Teachers First’: Fox Hosts Say Biden Relationship With Unions Priority In Reopening Schools)
“If pursuing bipartisanship is a character issue for Joe Biden, where can he do that in a way that will be acceptable to you and other progressives?” host George Stephanopoulos began by asking Democracy for America CEO Yvette Simpson.
“It starts with COVID relief. I don’t know why we continue to pretend like Republicans and Democrats aren’t suffering under the weight of this package. So, for Republicans to come in and lowball that offer when their folks are suffering too, that should have been unifying. We should have passed that package … Let’s start with that because I think it’s unifying,” responded Simpson.
Christie retorted that “$800 billion hasn’t even been distributed yet,” referring to the amount of money claimed to have been unspent from the last relief bill that became law in December.
Congress passed a $900 billion relief package and $1.4 trillion government funding bill in December. Another package has been proposed by the Biden administration and includes $130 billion allocated for reopening schools. Many Republicans have expressed concern over the cost of the package, and what they say is funds that have not yet been distributed from the last package. They have proposed a scaled down version of the bill that includes $20 billion for a school reopening initiative.
“This COVID stimulus package is bloated, it’s fat, it should fail. Here’s the reality. Think about it. There is $130 billion for school reopening and the teachers union, you know, basically shoved it to Biden and said, no. So, we’re now going to give $130 billion to public schools that aren’t going to open,” political consultant Sara Fagen said.
Christie added, “The CDC says that the schools could have reopened months ago and the only reason they didn’t in my state, in other states, is because of the teachers unions saying they don’t want to go back. And you know who that hurts more than anybody else? Urban kids.”
Teachers unions across the country have been strong advocates for keeping schools closed and continuing virtual classroom instruction, even though the CDC released guidelines on reopening last Summer.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Feb. 3 that schools can reopen safely without teachers being required to get the coronavirus vaccine.
“If the guy loading my produce at the supermarket can go back to work, a teacher can go back and start teaching an urban kid. They’re failing our urban kids. It’s a disgrace,” Christie concluded.