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Tiffany Bill Would Block Federal Funding If Schools Don’t Reopen By Sep. 8

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 Northern Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) said he’s using a “carrot-and-stick” approach to try to compel schools to reopen this fall.

His new bill would block federal funding from schools that don’t reopen to in-person classes by Sep. 8. It’s the first bill Tiffany has proposed since being sworn into Congress last month.

Most schools stopped in-person classes this spring due to COVID-19.

“I think it’s really important to get our schools open here on time this fall. We saw a real diminishment in kids’ education here in the two and a half months that ended this school year,” Tiffany told WXPR. “It’s going to create a real problem if schools don’t reopen.”

Many schools remain uncertain about holding in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It, once again, goes back to the science. Kids are largely not affected by this [virus]. Pneumonia and the flu are more damaging to kids than COVID-19, according to the research that I’ve seen. There really isn’t a reason not to reopen our schools,” Tiffany said.

Democrat Tricia Zunker, who lost to Tiffany in a special election last month and is challenging him again in the fall, called Tiffany’s school-defunding stance “unacceptable.”

“No matter where you stand on pandemic measures, our children and our teachers should not be held hostage. Rep. Tiffany should be focused on ensuring that our students and teachers have the tools they need during this pandemic by working to expand rural broadband access throughout northern Wisconsin,” Zunker said in a statement.

Tiffany is introducing the legislation with Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana). 

“I think it’s a carrot-and-stick approach to give people an incentive. People react to incentives,” he said. “[I] just want to give an impetus to get kids back in school.”

Tiffany pointed out federal funding is a small part of the budget for most schools, with state and local money making up the biggest chunk.