Watch — Stefanik Grills Becerra on Child Mask Mandate: Biden Administration ‘Woefully out of Touch’

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Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) questioned President Joe Biden’s chief health official Wednesday on the Biden administration’s requirement that young children in the federal Head Start program wear masks.

Stefanik, speaking during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing, demanded Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra provide reasoning for the mask requirement in Head Start, an HHS-run program for low-income families with children ages five years old and younger.

“Why is your agency still imposing this harmful mask mandate on toddlers and young children in the Head Start program?” Stefanik asked, noting recent studies that she said revealed harmful effects of masking young children, including causing “limited vocabularies, delayed speech development, and difficulties with social interaction and confidence.”


Stefanik, the third-ranking Republican in the House, also pointed out to Becerra the inconsistencies in mask policies among various health agencies.

For instance, the HHS policy deviates from the World Health Organization’s mask policy, which states, “In general, children aged 5 years and under do not need to wear masks,” and warns that “children of this age should not wear masks for a long duration or without supervision.”

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency housed under HHS, revised its mask policy in February to align with “community levels” and specified that low and medium level communities, which is currently most of the country, do not generally have a mask requirement.

Becerra replied to Stefanik, “We know that masks are safe and they are effective. We know that many of our children, especially those that are under the age of five, can still not receive a vaccine, and so therefore they are in danger of contracting COVID.”

Stefanik pressed Becerra, “So the position of you, Mr. Secretary, and the position of President Joe Biden is to require masks on children under the age of five?”

Becerra did not directly answer yes or no but noted, “At Head Start we are reviewing the policies as we speak, but we will make sure that we’re protecting every child in America under a Head Start program.”

The Head Start program’s home page currently prominently features masked children, and while the Head Start office acknowledges the conflicting CDC and Head Start mask policies, Head Start maintains its mask mandate on small children.

The Head Start office also notes its forced masking policy is facing legal challenges in the form of preliminary injunctions across 25 states.

“If it is the position of Joe Biden to require mask mandates only on children under the age of five, that is woefully out of touch with the American people. It’s also woefully out of touch of health experts across this country,” Stefanik concluded. “I’m glad you clarified that it is this president and your agency that is circumventing the best scientific and medical advice to impose these harmful mask mandates.”

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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