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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor urging senators to pass his resolution to repeal the Biden administration’s mask mandate for toddlers in the Head Start program. Following Thune’s remarks, the Senate passed his resolution 55-41.
In January, Thune led a letter signed by 17 Republican senators urging U.S. department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to rescind the one-size-fits-all federal mandates on Head Start programs across the nation. In December, Thune introduced the Preventing Mandates on Toddlers Act, bicameral legislation which would prohibit HHS from implementing or enforcing the toddler mask mandate.
Thune and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) co-authored an op-ed for Fox News in February stating their strong opposition to the Biden administration’s toddler mask mandate and their intent to force a vote repealing the rule. Thune reiterated the importance of rescinding this overreaching federal mandate in an op-ed that was published earlier today.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, as I mentioned earlier today on the floor, President Biden has apparently decided that COVID is over at our southern border.
“But not, apparently, for American toddlers.
“While a court injunction has barred enforcement in a number of states, the Department of Health and Human Services has still not repealed its mask and vaccine mandate for Head Start programs.
“A mandate that requires children as young as two years old to wear masks indoors, and, incredibly, outside.
“Mr. President, the scientific evidence for masking toddlers is shaky at best.
“The World Health Organization does not recommend masking for children under five.
“And the concerns – about the effect on speech and children’s development – are real.
“But none of that seems to matter to the administration.
“Despite the low danger of serious illness in children, apparently the Biden administration believes that toddlers should be masked in perpetuity – a position Secretary Becerra doubled down on in front of the Senate Finance Committee last month.
“Mr. President, if the Biden administration isn’t going to repeal its toddler mask mandate, it’s time for Congress to step in and do it for them.
“The resolution of disapproval I have introduced – and which we’re voting on in the next few minutes – would end the administration’s mandate, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting for this resolution.
“It’s past time to call a halt to the Biden administration’s outdated and unscientific mandate and ensure that our toddlers can run around the playground mask-free.”