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Biden administration warns Arizona it could LOSE COVID funds for ‘undermining’ school mask mandates 

Biden administration warns Arizona they could LOSE COVID funds for trying to ‘undermine’ school mask mandates

  • The Treasury Department wrote to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Tuesday 
  • It said two grant programs ‘undermine evidence-based efforts’ to stop COVID-19
  • One program gives private school vouchers to parents opposed to masking
  • And another gives grants to schools that do not have mask mandates
  • The letter gave Ducey 30 days to explain how he would fix the matter – or risk losing COVID-19 recovery funds


The Biden administration on Tuesday warned Arizona that it could lose millions of dollars in pandemic recovery funds if it continued to use grants to undercut school mask mandates.

The state is offering private school vouchers to anti-mask parents and it is offering funding to school districts that do not impost mask mandates. 

In a letter to Arizona’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, the Treasury Department accused the state of misusing the money, which was designed to help stem the pandemic. 

‘We are concerned that two recently created Arizona grant programs undermine evidence-based efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,’ wrote Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo.

A $1.9 trillion COVID package passed by Congress earlier this year included $350 billion for states and cities in a State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. 

President Biden has made clear his frustration with governors who get in the way of efforts to tackle the pandemic and on Tuesday his Treasury Department wrote to Arizona warning it risked losing COVID-19 funds if it continued to use them to ‘undercut’ mask mandates

Gov Doug Ducey said: 'Here in Arizona, we trust families to make decisions that are best for their children. It’s clear that President Biden doesn’t feel the same'

Gov Doug Ducey said: ‘Here in Arizona, we trust families to make decisions that are best for their children. It’s clear that President Biden doesn’t feel the same’

Arizona was awarded $4.2 billion from the funds. 

‘A program or service that imposes conditions on participation or acceptance of the service that would undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 or discourage compliance with evidence-based solutions for stopping the spread of COVID-19 is not a permissible use of SLFRF funds,’ wrote Adeyemo.

It is believed to be the first time the administration has warned a state it could lose funds in this way. 

School mask mandates have been a political trigger point in Arizona.

The states Republican-controlled legislature banned face-covering mandates for students last month.

But several school districts simply ignored the provision, which in any event was struck down after a legal challenge.

The state supreme court is expected to hear a legal challenge.  

Ducey launched two anti-mask initiatives in August. 

A $163 million grant program, using federal money controlled by the state, offers to schools without mask mandates. 

And a $10 million program offers $7000 in school vouchers to parents who do not want to send children to schools that enforce mask wearing. 

Ducey quickly hit back at the Biden administration on Tuesday, defending the two programs for protecting parental choice. 

Ducey criticized the Biden administration and said it should be up to parents whether their children wore masks

Ducey criticized the Biden administration and said it should be up to parents whether their children wore masks

‘Here in Arizona, we trust families to make decisions that are best for their children. It’s clear that President Biden doesn’t feel the same,’ he said. 

‘He’s focused on taking power away from American families by issuing restrictive and dictatorial mandates for his own political gain.

‘After the many challenges of last year, it should be our top priority to get our kids caught up. 

‘That’s exactly what this program does — it gives families in need the opportunity to access critical educational resources. Why is the president against that?’

Arizona is one of at least eight states with laws or executive orders prohibiting mask mandates in public schools. 

In August the Biden administration signaled its frustration, and the Education Department opened civil rights investigations into five states, saying that such measures risked discriminating against the students with disabilities.

It said it was monitoring other states – including Arizona – in case their actions merited investigation.   

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