WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, along with U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, and introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to nullify the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interim final rule (IFR) that requires all children two years of age and older to wear a mask, including while they are outdoors, if they are enrolled in Head Start educational facilities.
The Head Start program is a federal government program that provides early education services to qualifying and low-income children. 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.
This resolution is the House companion to S.J.Res. 39, introduced by U.S. Senator John Thune, R-S.D., in February.
“We have all seen the data showing that our students have been negatively impacted by school closures and remote learning, especially in low-income and rural communities. Loss of learning, lack of socialization, and increased rates of depression and suicide show just how much our students have suffered,” Miller-Meeks said. “Now that our schools have begun in-person learning, we should not be enforcing unnecessary mask mandates on those with the least likely chance of getting severely ill from COVID-19. Children in Head Start programs are in some of the most economically vulnerable populations and need our support. I am proud to join Congressman Joyce in working to lift the unnecessary mask mandate on these students.”
During a House Education and Labor Committee hearing earlier this month, Miller-Meeks pressed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on the direct impact of school closures and mask mandates on the mental and emotional health of America’s children.
The Head Start mask mandate affects all children ages two and up, and both the mask and vaccine mandates apply to staff employed at Head Start facilities. The World Health Organization advises against forcibly masking children ages five and below, citing concerns about developmental delays caused by masking toddlers.
A growing body of evidence suggests that masking toddlers impacts their ability to develop communication skills, to read facial cues, and to learn critical social skills. Low-income students, students living in rural communities, and minority students are already the most likely to be negatively impacted by COVID-era mandates and lockdowns. The Head Start mandate serves only to exacerbate these existing disparities.
“The federal government should not be using taxpayer money to force children as young as two years old to wear face masks,” Joyce said. “If parents or individual Head Start programs want to mask themselves or their kids to protect them from COVID-19, they have every right to do so. But the federal government should not insert itself into that decision-making process, especially when children are the least at risk for the virus but the most likely to suffer developmental setbacks from prolonged masking. I’m proud to introduce this resolution with Congresswoman Miller-Meeks to protect parents’ rights and prevent mask mandates from further stunting our children’s educational, developmental and emotional growth.”
“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,” Thune said. “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.”
Read the text of the bill below.Joyce_CRA-Resolution