WH Won’t Say What Authority Trump Has To Cut Funding To Schools That Don’t Reopen

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks to the press on July 8, 2020, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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July 8, 2020 6:10 p.m.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday wouldn’t specify what authority President Trump has to cut funding for schools that won’t reopen as cases of the coronavirus continue surging across the country.

On Tuesday, the President threatened that the White House is “very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else” to reopen schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump doubled down on his threat the following morning in a tweet that accused Democrats of believing that reopening schools ahead of the November election “would be bad for them politically.”

Vice President Mike Pence also appeared to endorse Trump’s threat during a press briefing on Wednesday by hinting at using the federal budget to give states a “strong incentive” to reopen schools.

McEnany additionally seemed to bolster the President’s school funding threat during a White House briefing Wednesday afternoon.

When asked why Trump is threatening to take funding from schools that don’t reopen and what authority he has to do that — given the fact that most public schools are funded by local property taxes — McEnany replied that the President “wants to increase funding and cares for education.”

“But he’s looking at potentially redirecting that to make sure it goes to the student, and it is most likely tied to the student, and not to a district where schools are closed,” McEnany said. “I would note that he said this is something he may consider in the tweet.”

Pressed again on what authority the President has and the specific funds he is threatening to cut, McEnany dodged the question by saying he “wants them to reopen altogether.”

“He wants students to be welcomed back to the schools because there are real consequences,” McEnany said, before referring to guidance by the American Academy of Pediatrics for school re-entry that discusses the negative impacts of children not having in-person education experiences.

McEnany then reemphasized that the President will push schools to reopen in light of “grave consequences” if students do not return to them in the fall.

“This is unacceptable and our schools are essential, and our teachers are essential workers, and he wants them to open and that’s why he’s speaking out so strongly about this,” McEnany said.

Watch McEnany’s remarks below:

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