SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule that repeals the Biden administration’s toddler mask mandate at Head Start facilities:
“The Biden administration’s toddler mask mandate is a national embarrassment, and its repeal is long overdue,” said Thune. “History will not look kindly on the bureaucrats who imposed unnecessary mask mandates on America’s toddlers and caused irreparable harm to their early development and education.”
The Head Start program is a federal program that provides qualifying, low-income children with early education services. Program facilities are located throughout the nation and, up until the issuance of the HHS interim final rule in November 2021, individual locations were largely successful in setting and enforcing their own COVID-19 protocols.
Thune has led the congressional effort to repeal the Biden administration’s toddler mask mandate:
- In September 2022, Thune and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, requested that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra rescind the department’s one-size-fits-all federal mask mandate on Head Start programs.
- In May 2022, the Senate passed Thune’s resolution, with the support of seven Democrats, to repeal the Biden administration’s mask mandate for toddlers in the Head Start program.
- In April 2022, at a hearing held by the Senate Finance Committee, Thune pressed Secretary Becerra on the department’s one-size-fits-all federal mask mandates on Head Start programs.
- In February 2022, Thune and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) authored an op-ed calling on the administration to repeal the toddler mask mandate.
- In February 2022, Thune introduced a resolution to nullify HHS’s Head Start mask mandate.
- In January 2022, Thune led 16 of his Senate Republican colleagues in urging Secretary Becerra to rescind the one-size-fits-all federal mandates on Head Start programs across the nation.
- In December 2021, Thune introduced the Preventing Mandates on Toddlers Act, bicameral legislation that would nullify HHS’s Head Start mask mandate.