U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today led several of his Senate Republican colleagues in introducing a resolution that, if enacted, would allow Congress to nullify a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interim final rule (IFR) that requires all staff and volunteers in Head Start educational facilities around the country to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask. Most notably, this resolution would nullify the IFR’s mandate for all children two years of age and older to wear a mask, including when they are playing outside. Congress can consider this resolution using expedited procedures under the Congressional Review Act and can pass it by a simple majority vote.
“Not only is this decision to police schoolyard activities yet another affront to parents’ rights by the Biden administration, even worse is nothing about this nationwide policy is based on science or common sense,” said Thune. “A toddler mask mandate highlights everything that’s wrong with Washington, which is why I introduced this common-sense resolution that would prohibit the Biden administration from enforcing or implementing this intrusive, one-size-fits-all Washington rule on America’s children.”
“South Dakota Head Start programs have successfully implemented appropriate COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and the majority have been open and safely functioning since June 2020,” said Katie Sieverding, executive director of South Dakota Head Start Association. “We thank Senator Thune for his work to protect our children and families from blanket masking mandates and keep these important decisions at the local level where they are best made.”
This resolution is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).
In December, Thune introduced separate legislation to nullify this IFR, and in January, he led his colleagues in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting that the administration rescind the IFR. The Head Start program is a federal government program that provides qualifying, low-income children with early education services. Program facilities are located throughout the nation and, up until the issuance of this IFR, individual locations had been able to set and enforce their own COVID-19 protocols.