Education secretary nominee grilled on requirements to reopen schools

This is a rush transcript from “Special Report” February 3, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR (on camera): Hi, Greg, thanks.

President Biden’s goal to put students back in the classroom in 100 days is
running into some headwinds. Slain Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick is
honored in the U.S. Capitol and Democrats begin the push to put judges in
open court positions and possibly create more seats to fill. This is
SPECIAL REPORT. Good evening. Welcome to Washington, I’m Bret Baier.

Across the country, pressure is building on school systems to reopen
classrooms to students after almost a year of online learning. In Chicago,
teachers are considering a strike tonight to stay put — to stay out of the
classroom. In Cincinnati, a judge threw out a teacher’s union lawsuit over
safety concerns. And here in our nation’s capital, the politics and health
experts seem to be at odds on some items.

We have Fox team coverage tonight. Correspondent Dan Springer is in the
Pacific Northwest where a pair of states are putting teachers near the
front of the line or at the front of the line for vaccines. We begin
tonight though with Chief Congressional Correspondent Mike Emanuel and the
confirmation hearing for the nominee to lead the Department of Education.
Good evening, Mike.

MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on
camera): Bret, good evening. President Biden set a goal of schools
reopening for in person learning in his first 100 days but so far, unions
are not budging.

Today, his nominee for Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized
following the science, which is still up for interpretation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE: We all want to make sure we
can get our students back into school safely.

EMANUEL (voice over): Cardona sidestepped a question about a demand from
the teachers’ union in Fairfax County, Virginia, that all teachers and
students must be vaccinated before returning to the classroom.

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): It doesn’t require that 100 percent of the
participants should be vaccinated to accomplish that.

CARDONA: We have great examples throughout our country of schools that are
able to reopen safely and do so while following mitigation strategies.

EMANUEL: Today, the CDC director shredded a shots first prerequisite.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC: Safe reopening does not suggest that
teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely.

EMANUEL: The White House press secretary walked that back several hours
later.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They have not released their
official guidance yet from the CDC on the vaccination of teachers and what
would be needed to ensure the safe reopening of schools.

EMANUEL: Top Democrats are including reopening schools as an issue in their
argument for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This rescue package will include resources for
schools to make that happen quicker.

EMANUEL: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell counter states and school
districts have only spent about $4 billion of the roughly $68 billion set
aside for K-12 schools. McConnell says it’s really a lack of willpower from
teachers’ unions.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): No more goalposts moving. States and districts
have got to follow the science and get American education back on track.

EMANUEL: Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney says the union’s always want
more money.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The funding that we’re describing is something
which the teachers’ union is very happy to receive, but which will not
result in actual improvement in the scores and the performance of our young
people.

EMANUEL: And while the fight goes on in Washington around the nation, many
kids are being impacted, some to their breaking point.

CHRIS BUCKNER, HIGH SCHOOL SON DIED OF SUICIDE: There’s no doubt in our
minds that the stress he was feeling as a result of school closures, not
being able to be with his friends, not getting to play football, absolutely
contributed to his death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

EMANUEL (on camera): Press Secretary Psaki notes it’s up to states to
determine prioritization for vaccinations but she says moving teachers up
is important to President Biden.

Axios reports some White House political advisors fear if they push schools
to reopen, and new variants of COVID spread, they could be forced to shut
down schools again, like what happened in Europe, Bret.

BAIER: All right, Mike. Thank you.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki noting it’s up to the states, some states are
putting teachers near the front or at the front of the line to get vaccines
hoping to get students back in the classroom.

But getting vaccinated does not mean schools will be back to full capacity.
Correspondent Dan Springer reports has our report right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN SPRINGER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: (voice over): These students
in Hood River, Oregon are among the select few, just 30 percent of all K-12
students in the state had been inside a classroom since last March.

But that’s expected to change soon as Governor Kate Brown put teachers at
the front of the COVID vaccination line.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): For every teacher who’s back in the classroom, they
help 20, 30, 35 students get their life back on track.

SPRINGER: According to Education Week, 27 states are currently vaccinating
at least some teachers, but only Oregon and Idaho have bumped them all
ahead of seniors not living in group settings.

With 80 percent of all COVID deaths in the U.S. being those over 65 years
old, many retirees say holding them back will cost lives.

JIM DAVIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OREGON COUNCIL OF RETIRED CITIZENS: When
seniors are affected by this, they have a lot of underlying conditions and
they’re more prone to dying. So, I think that’s the concern.

SPRINGER: Nationally, some 20 million students have done nothing but
distance learning the last 10 months. Studies from NWEA which does
education research, and McKinsey show they have significant learning loss
and suffer anxiety and depression.

DAN REIDENBERG, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SUICIDE
PREVENTION:
We’re seeing a range somewhere between 30 and 60 percent increase in
distress over the pandemic for young kids.

SPRINGER: Teachers unions have largely fought reopening schools until
educators can get vaccinated even though the CDC says school transmission
rates are lower than in the community.

And in Oregon, there’s no guarantee all teachers will be going back to the
classroom, even after jumping the vaccination line.

JOHN LARSON, PRESIDENT, OREGON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: We certainly have
students that won’t have been vaccinated, right? And so, they are a risk to
each other. And the vaccinations aren’t 100 percent effective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SPRINGER (on camera): And another hurdle, Oregon Health Department
guidelines could make it impossible to open big high schools due to
crowding concerns. But if they remain closed even after teachers were
pushed ahead of more vulnerable senior citizens, there will be a backlash
from the elderly, parents and students who are all suffering the
consequences, Bret.

BAIER: Dan Springer live in Seattle. Dan, thanks.

Breaking tonight, the House Rules Committee met this afternoon to debate a
measure to remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s committee
assignments over comments she’s made in the past and conspiracies she’s
touted. The Democratic chairman of the committee says Greene encouraged
violence against fellow members.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he condemns the statements on
school shootings, political violence and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,
but does not — does not back the effort to remove her committee
assignments. Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich is following the story live on
Capitol Hill. Good evening, Jacqui.

JACQUI HEINRICH, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good evening,
Bret. Most of the 211 House Republicans huddled together to decide the fate
of that freshman congresswoman who drew ire from all sides embracing
conspiracy theories in her past and they are still hashing it out right
now.

Republicans are leery of caving to Democrat demands and setting a
precedent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): When you start having people in Washington dictate
what happens to two members of Congress and what committees they can serve,
on what they can do and not leave that decision to the voters in the
district to the American people. That is a dangerous road to head down.

HEINRICH (voice over): That’s where a small faction of Republicans staged a
counter effort against Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar demanding she be
stripped of her committee assignments over what critics called anti-Semitic
statements she made and apologized for back in 2019.

McCarthy gave Greene some choices in an hours long meeting last night,
denounce QAnon, voluntarily step down from her assignment, or Democrats
will do it for her through a vote.

Greene did not back down and told the Washington Examiner tonight: They
don’t even realize they’re helping me. I’m pretty amazed at how dumb they
are.

McCarthy condemned Greene’s past rhetoric tonight but shifted blame to
Democrats saying: I understand that Marjorie’s comments have caused deep
wounds to many and as a result, I offer Majority Leader Hoyer a path to
lower the temperature and address these concerns.

Instead of coming together to do that, the Democrats are choosing to raise
the temperature referring to tomorrow’s vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEINRICH (on camera): It will force members of his party to publicly back
or rebuke Greene. And whatever happens with Greene, she is making money off
of it and last update, more than $160,000.

Meantime, it’s less clear how McCarthy will deal with Congresswoman Liz
Cheney after more than a hundred members within the party are pushing to
remove her from her leadership spot after she voted to impeach President
Trump last month.

Tonight, she refused to apologize, and one source says she wants her
leadership position to go to a vote. Sources also tell Fox, McCarthy is
backing her to remain in her position, Bret.

BAIER: More on this with the panel. Jacqui, thank you.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration fully
supports the Space Force created during President Trump’s term. That
statement comes the day after Psaki gave an answer in her briefing that
several lawmakers saw is dismissive, at least, one Republican called it
disgraceful.

White House Correspondent Kristin Fisher is following the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just seven
weeks ago, the Russians tested an anti-satellite weapon capable of
potentially taking out U.S. spy and communication satellites. It’s the very
kind of threat that the U.S. Space Force was created for during the Trump
administration.

But when asked about this newest branch of the U.S. military in the
Briefing Room, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Said:

PSAKI: Wow, Space Force. It’s the plane of today.

FISHER: A nod to an earlier question about the paint color of Air Force
One. That response fed concerns within the force. According to two current
service members, that the Biden administration is not taking threats in
space seriously enough.

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Psaki
“Blatantly diminished an entire branch of our military as the punchline of
a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny.”

And he asked her to apologize. And given the chance to do so today, Psaki
declined, but she did offer the White House’s first full throated defense
of the force.

Does the Space Force have the full support of the Biden administration? Or
is the president at some point perhaps wanting to try to get rid of it or
in some way diminish it?

PSAKI: They absolutely have the full support of the Biden administration.
And we are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force.

FISHER: After her initial remarks Saki took to Twitter to address the
criticism and invited members of the Space Force to the White House. Today,
the force’s top general said he would welcome the opportunity.

But the White House’s top concern continues to be back on planet Earth,
getting the coronavirus under control and a massive relief bill through
Congress.

Today, President Biden met with Senate Democrats in the Oval Office.

SCHUMER: There’s agreement, universal agreement, we must go big and bold.

FISHER: The president is still holding out hope for bipartisan support.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney says it’s possible but not without lowering
that price tag.

ROMNEY: If it goes forward without any changes from what was originally
proposed, I would predict that not a single Republican will support the
$1.9 trillion plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FISHER (on camera): Now, one potential point of compromise are those $1,400
stimulus checks that President Biden is asking for. Psaki says that the
amount of those checks is not up for debate, but the number of Americans
who qualify or would qualify for those checks is on the negotiating table,
Bret.

BAIER: Not 2,000 but 1,400. Kristin Fisher live in the North Lawn. Kristin,
thanks.

Mix day on Wall Street today. The Dow gaining 36, the S&P 500 rose four,
the NASDAQ lost two.

Also breaking tonight, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has directed a
service wide stand down to take place sometime in the next 60 days to have
“Needed discussions on extremism in the ranks.”

The decision to call a meeting with all the military service chiefs and
secretaries follows the January 6th attack on the Capitol and revelations
that some active duty and a large number of military veterans participated
in that riot.

In 2020, The FBI opened 143 investigations involving past and present
members of the U.S. military. 68 had to do with domestic extremism.

The remains of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick were buried at
Arlington National Cemetery today after he was honored at the U.S. Capitol.
The officer was injured during the January 6th attack on the Capitol, died
the next day.

Congressional Correspondent Chad Pergram looks at the sober Memorial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over):
Officer Brian Sicknick saluted by American leaders. His remains lying in
honor in the most sacred temple of American democracy, the U.S. Capitol
rotunda.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It is my official and sad honor to welcome
Officer Brian Sicknick and many who loved, respected and were protected by
him to United States Capitol rotunda.

PERGRAM: A somber ceremony conducted pandemic style. Mourners fanned out
six feet apart.

SCHUMER: He was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ended on a
day when peace was shattered.

PERGRAM: Lying in honor is similar to lying in state. Only five Americans
have laid in honor, three of whom were U.S. Capitol Police officers.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer went to the same high school as
Sicknick’s mother Gladys, and spoke about how tough this was for everyone.

SCHUMER: That Brian and his family were made to pay such a high price for
his devoted service in the Capitol was a senseless tragedy, one that we are
still grappling with.

PERGRAM: Capitol Police escorted Sicknick’s remains to the Capitol Tuesday
night. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden among the first to pay
their respects. The President tweeting no words condole the pain of this
moment. An honor guard stood vigil over Sicknick’s remains overnight.

Brian Sicknick joined the Capitol Police in 2008 and served twice overseas
in Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan with the New Jersey Air National Guard.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark
Milley paying tribute before Sicknick was interred at Arlington National
Cemetery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERGRAM (on camera): Sicknick served in the Capitol police’s first
responder unit. He was hit in the head with the fire extinguisher during
the brawl on the 6th of January. Sicknick later collapsed and died the next
day. Police are treating Sicknick’s death as a homicide, but they have yet
to charge any of the rioters. Bret.

BAIER: Thank you, Chad. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said today,
“Four weeks ago, the rotunda was strewn with the debris of an
insurrectionist mob. Today, it is adorned in solemn thanksgiving for the
sacrifice of a hero. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick was 42-years-
old.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: Ahead of this Sunday’s Super Bowl, Homeland Security officials in
coordination with the National Football League say they have confiscated
tens of millions worth of counterfeit NFL items over the past year.

That effort known as Operation Team Player intercepted more than 150,000
items everything from fake super bowl rings to masks.

We’re learning new information tonight about the circumstances that led to
two FBI agents being killed when they arrived to search an apartment,
including, we’re learning who the shooter was.

Correspondent Steve Harrigan is following the case in Sunrise, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An
investigation is now underway into what exactly happened. Unnamed law
enforcement officials tell Fox News that suspect, who the FBI has
identified as David Lee Huber, watch the approach of the agents through a
doorbell camera, then used an assault rifle to shoot them through a closed
door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One time shot to the shoulder of the FBI agent.

HARRIGAN: Five agents shot, two dead. Two, hospitalized with multiple
gunshot wounds, one of which was released today. The fifth, treated on the
scene.

FBI Director Wray visited the crime scene and met privately with the
families of the slain agents. Officials say, they meticulously planned for
all operations.

GEORGE PIRO, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION,
MIAMI: The vast majority of these warrants occur without incident.

HARRIGAN: Now, this ordinary Florida gated community is the crime scene of
one of the deadliest events in FBI history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My neighbor down the street said he heard like machine
gun fire about 6:00 in the morning.

HARRIGAN: In expressing his condolences to the fallen families, President
Biden spoke about those who wear the badge.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the vast, vast majority of
these men and women are decent, honorable people who put themselves on the
line. We owe them.

HARRIGAN: Biden’s qualified praise of law enforcement drew questions from
the media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did he think it was important to stress that the
vast majority are?

PSAKI: Because I think he believes that the men and women who have been
serving our country in a variety of capacities have been criticized and he
wanted to reiterate his support for the important work they do.

HARRIGAN: Special Agent Daniel Alfin and Special Agent Laura
Schwartzenberger were veterans of multiple child pornography
investigations, often pursuing cases where violent acts against children
were committed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIGAN (on camera): Both agents leave behind spouses and children of
their own. Bret.

BAIER: Steve Harrigan, live in Sunrise, Florida. Steve, thank you.

Up next, why herd immunity may not happen anytime soon? And some more mixed
messaging on double masking. We’ll bring you that story.

First, here is what some of our Fox affiliates around the country are
covering tonight. Fox 11 in Los Angeles for an explosion at an industrial
park injured four people, three of them critically.

The blast was caused by commercial pyrotechnics, and then, a brush fire
started right after that it was quickly contained, however.

Fox 35 in Orlando, where Florida governor, Ron DeSantis announced new
proposals aimed at reining in social media platforms, and what the
Republican calls the squelching of the free speech of conservatives.

The proposals include possible fines for suspending accounts of political
candidates and allowing lawsuits for anti-competitive behavior. It is
uncertain legally if the state has the authority to act on the tech
companies.

And this is a live look at Milwaukee from our affiliate Fox 6. The big
story there tonight. Areas of the Midwest that received around a foot of
snow over the weekend, yes, they’re preparing for another blast of winter
weather.

Blizzard warnings are now in effect in Iowa and the storm is expected to
move to the upper Great Lakes region tomorrow.

That is tonight’s live look “OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY” from SPECIAL REPORT.
We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: The federal government is opening two coronavirus vaccination sites
in Oakland and Los Angeles, two of the hardest-hit communities out there.
The White House COVID-19 coordinator says the two sites are just the
beginning of the push to speed up vaccinations. But supply is not the only
concern. Correspondent Jonathan Serrie is following the vaccine push from
Atlanta.

JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As federal
health officials try to get shots to as many Americans as possible, vaccine
hesitancy may be the biggest obstacle to reaching herd immunity. A report
published by the CDC shows, while 78 percent of nursing home residents get
the vaccine when offered, only 38 percent of the staff do.

And according to a Monmouth University poll, only 50 percent of Americans
plan to get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn with 19 percent
preferring to wait, and 24 percent unlikely to get vaccinated at all. But
federal health officials say they’re nowhere near mandatory inoculations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND
PREVENTION: We can’t sort of be in a place where we’re thinking about
making requirements for vaccination until we certainly have enough for the
entire country.

SERRIE: Today, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline announced it’s working with a
German company to develop vaccines against new variants of the coronavirus,
while also pledging to produce up to 100 million doses of its existing
vaccine this year.

A study from Mount Sinai Hospital suggests people previously infected with
COVID-19 may only require one vaccine dose to maintain their protection.
And while the CDC recommends wearing a mask with at least two layers of
washable fabric, federal researchers are investigating whether double
masking offers additional protection against more infectious mutations.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS
DISEASES: There’s nothing wrong with people wearing two masks. I often
myself wear two masks. Can we make a general recommendation that doesn’t
have scientific basis yet? No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERRIE (on camera): Contact tracers have found that many of these varying
cases are actually spreading among people wearing no masks and practicing
no social distancing. So, just wearing a mask, period, is a good place to
start. Bret.

BAIER: Jonathan Serrie in Atlanta. Jonathan, thank you.

Parler has terminated CEO John Matze. According to a memo obtained by Fox
News, a memo to staff. The Parler board making that decision today without
the input of the now-former CEO.

When Republicans had control in the Senate, the party sought to fill the
judicial benches with their picks and do it quickly. Now the Democrats are
in charge, they are seeking to do the same and maybe more and fast.

Correspondent David Spunt has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I, Joseph Robinette Biden
Jr., do solemnly swear.

DAVID SPUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  The new president is already working
with the Senate majority to transform the federal courts.

CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  There will be lots of
vacancies that come up.

SPUNT:  And Democrats are chomping at the bit to fill them, hoping to be as
aggressive as the previous administration.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  By the end of the
first term we’ll have close to 300 federal judges.

SPUNT:  Not quite 300, but President Trump in just a single term in office
appointed 245 federal judges, including three Supreme Court justices.
Though there’s no indication any justices are ready to retire, there are 50
other vacancies to fill. Three on the high-profile Circuit Courts of
Appeal.

JUDGE MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE:  Thank you both for giving
me opportunity to serve.

SPUNT:  That’s where Judge Merrick Garland sits. But he’s on his way to
becoming the next attorney general. Sources familiar with the selection
process tell FOX News a possible Garland replace is Judge Ketanji Brown
Jackson, a district court judge in Washington, D.C. Progressives want more,
flirting with court expansion.

SCHUMER:  I have in the city of Buffalo a huge — they don’t have enough
judges. There’s this long line before you can get to court because they
don’t have enough. So we could expand those.

SPUNT:  But expanding the amount of judges, also known as court packing,
takes time, and time is at a premium.

PAUL SMITH, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER:  The difficulty that Mr.
Schumer faces is that he’s got a lot on his plate. He’s trying to do COVID
relief and infrastructure and democracy reform and immigration. They have a
very, very full agenda.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SPUNT (on camera):  Another popular Democrat idea, expanding the Supreme
Court with up to 10 more justices and ending their life tenure. A White
House official tells me the president will press forward with a study on
court reforms. Bret?

BAIER:  David Spunt in the White House Briefing Room. David, thanks.

Up next, the clock is ticking on President Biden’s goal of putting students
back in the classroom in his first 100 days in office.

First, Beyond Our Borders tonight. Syria state TV media says suspected
Israeli strikes prompted a response from Syrian air defenses. The Britain
based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air strikes targeted a
military post for government troops and allied Iranian militias in southern
Syria on the edge of the Israeli occupied Golan Heights.

Police levelled the first charge against Burma’s ousted leader Aung San Suu
Kyi, giving military authorities who staged a coup a legal reason to detain
her. The charge of being in possession of illegally imported walkie-talkies
came to light two days after the leader was placed under house arrest. The
charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. The U.S. has
condemned the coup.

Russian authorities rejected western criticism as hysterics as activists
reported more than 1,400 new arrests in the crackdown on protesters
rallying against the jailing of top Kremlin foe Alexey Navalny. Moscow
court has sentenced Navalny to more than two years in prison for violating
the terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany from a nerve agent
poisoning.

Just some of the other stories Beyond Our Borders tonight. We’ll be right
back.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CDC:  Vaccination of teachers is not a
prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.

RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS:  Educators have a right
to express their fears. Like everyone else in this country, they have seen
the ravages of COVID.

SEN. RICHARD BURR, (R-NC) SENATE HEALTH AND EDUCATION COMMITTEE:  It
doesn’t require that 100 percent of the participants be vaccinated to
accomplish that.

MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY:  We have great examples throughout our
country of schools that are able to reopen safely and do so while following
mitigation strategies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  The nominee for secretary of education there talking up on Capitol
Hill. This as the “Wall Street Journal” reports that so far K through 12
schools have been allocated $67.2 billion in funding, and according to the
“Wall Street Journal” and their stats, $4.4 billion of that has been spent
so far.

Where are we on this opening of school issue? And we’ll talk about COVID
plans as well. Let’s bring in our panel, Harold Ford Jr., former Tennessee
Congressman, CEO of Empowerment and Inclusion Capital, Katie Pavlich, news
editor at Townhall.com, and Byron York, chief political correspondent of
the “Washington Examiner.”

There’s a lot of back and forth, Byron. We keep on coming back to this, in
part because it’s very emotional for parents who, one, want to have their
kids back in school, and, two, want to have their kids back in school.

(LAUGHTER)

BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “WASHINGTON EXAMINER”:  Yes. The
problem here for the president is that he is stuck between two conflicting
positions. One is his often-stated commitment to listening to the science.
Problem being, of course, that the science says that with precautions, it’s
OK. It’s safe for children to go to school. The other conflicting position
is the Democratic Party’s loyalty to the teachers’ unions who in a lot of
places simply do not want to go back to school.

And so far, it appears that the teachers’ unions have the upper hand. A
hundred days can end pretty quickly, May 1st not that far away. And the
situation is really a mess in a number of places. Certainly in Chicago it’s
a terrible mess. And in San Francisco, you have the city council going to
war, the city government going to war with the school board, which would
rather spend its time stripping the names of George Washington from schools
than actually coming up with a plan to reopen.

BAIER:  Here’s the president and the Senate leaders on schools and
stimulus, Katie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I think we’ll get some
Republicans.

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  No more goalpost moving.
States and districts have got to follow the science and get American
education back on track.

CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  For parents, I have spoken
to so many who are desperate for the day they can send their children back
to school safely. This rescue package will include resources for schools to
make that happen quicker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  So that’s the question. Where are the resources that have been
allocated already?

KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR, TOWNHALL.COM:  Well, and I would say the bigger
question is what’s to say that these teachers’ unions will agree to going
back to school after they would receive this $1.9 trillion COVID relief
package. They’ve received $65 billion plus in previous packages. You have
the mayor of Chicago saying we’ve allocated hundreds of millions of dollars
to ventilation and safety measures for teachers, and yet they still aren’t
willing to come to some agreement about getting back in the classroom.

So we’ve gone from follow the science to we’re going to extort the federal
government for more money with no guarantee that we’re actually going to
get back in the classroom to do our jobs when there are schools all over if
country, private and public, that have found ways to use the funding that
they’ve been able to get from the federal government in previous relief
packages and also from their local districts to reopen safely.

And the White House keeps changing on this. We have the CDC director today
saying that it’s not a prerequisite for teachers to get vaccinated, and
then you have the White House walking it back at the press briefing, saying
they haven’t released their guidance for that. And we know that there are
teachers all over the country in the classroom without vaccinations.

BAIER:  Harold, we go back and forth about where this vote is and where the
money is. We had Senator Manchin on from West Virginia last night. He has
had concerns about how it’s all packaged together. It seems, though, as we
go along here that Democrats are planning to go it alone. Here’s one
element of it, the $1,400 checks that used to be back in the Georgia
runoff, $2,000. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Their election will put an
end to the block in Washington and that $2,000 stimulus check, that money
that will go out the door immediately.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  There were $600 payments, as you
know, in the $900 billion package that passed in December. This is $1,400.
Together that’s $2,000, so it would be delivering on the promise he made,
and it’s something that he is firmly sticking by.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  They just wanted to do the math there. When he walking $2,000 in
Georgia, included the $600 from the Trump administration in the last
package. But where do you think we are on all this?

HAROLD FORD JR. (D) FORMER TENNESSEE REPRESENTATIVE:  Thanks for having me
on again. I think that what we’re saying is that Joe Biden has a bigger
vision and a different vision than some Democrats and most Republicans do
in the House and the Senate with regard to what a relief package should
look like.

I would agree, and I resemble the comments, my position resembles that of
both Katie and Byron regarding the science in our schools. But I do believe
we should have a V and V plan for the schools, vaccines and ventilation. If
we are able to provide that in school systems across the country, public
and even private alike, any teacher that chooses not to go should be held
accountable by that school system. And I think you would find a lot of
Democrats, including myself, taking a position towards unions that would
prevent that.

Three, I find it really curious why some of my old Republican friends in
Congress seem reluctant to want to provide money to state and localities.
There was no money in the Republican package that some of my Republican
friends talked with President Biden about the other night in the White
House. Now, President Trump used to often say we’re not going to give blue
state governors and mayors monies for them to waste it. When we have a
natural disaster, presidents don’t prioritize and send more money to states
and local areas where there are Democrats and Republicans and where their
party is overrepresented. This is an American challenge. So let us support
cities and states and schools to get out of this mess. And if people are
able to vaccinate, teachers, that is, and we’re able to provide proper
ventilation in our schools, any teacher that chooses not to go back into
school should lose his or her job, period.

BAIER:  Yes, but I think Senator Manchin said last night, it’s not that he
has a problem with funding cities and states. He has a problem with $350
billion being the number to do that.

I want to turn, Byron, finally, to the Space Force and what Jen Psaki said
Tuesday, and then the redirect today. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Wow, Space Force. It’s the plane
of today. It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space
Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see
if we have any update on that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Big picture here, does the Space Force have the full
support of the Biden administration, or is the president at some point
perhaps going to try to get rid of it or in some way diminish it?

PSAKI:  They absolutely have the full support of the Biden administration,
and we are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  That seemed like a cleanup on aisle four there, Byron.

YORK:  Big time. She really locked it in that first exchange, mocked the
Space Force. And remember, Joe Biden has come into office pledging to undo
all sorts of things that President Trump did during his term in office. As
a matter of fact, the first weeks of the Biden presidency seemed to be
exclusively devoted to undoing President Trump’s accomplishments.

But the Space Force is not one of the things that President Biden is
targeting. At the time, everybody thought there’s a huge future for the
military in space. Something like this was needed at the Pentagon. It is a
new branch of the military, and you shouldn’t have the spokeswoman for the
commander in chief making fun of it like she did the other day.

BAIER:  Next up, the House considers removing Congresswoman Greene from her
committees over her controversial past comments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA):  This grave sin that I am being
crucified for in the public square is for reading about things, posting
about them, and asking questions on Facebook in 2018. People can call Nancy
Pelosi and tell her at her office that when we do take the majority, if we
do take it back, that the same thing that she’s pulling on me, that we
won’t forget, and that we’ll do the same thing to their radical members.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, that is after the decisions
by the Republican caucus to fight for her to keep her committee
assignments, and as the House gets ready to vote on yanking those away from
her for conspiracy theories and also threats that have been linked to her
Facebook page, whether she liked them or said them. We said earlier in the
show that she was making money on this, obviously meant fundraising for a
campaign in the future on this issue. So are Democrats, on the QAnon issue,
labeling all Republicans as QAnon.

Meantime, at this hour Republicans are meeting about the fate of Liz
Cheney, whether she stays in House leadership after voting for impeachment
against President Trump.

We’re back with the panel. Katie, your thoughts on this, all elements of
it?

PAVLICH:  Well, we have to remember that on October 2nd of 2020, there was
a resolution brought to the house floor to condemn and to reject QAnon. And
146 Republicans voted for it. Now, the DCCC is now putting in $500,000 to
go after a number of Republican House members, and as you just said, tying
them to QAnon, and saying that they’re part of QAnon. But every single
member that they are going after has condemned the group, and many voted
for that resolution to condemn them on the House floor.

Further, if you look at the districts that they’re targeting, for example,
Young Kim in California, Mike Garcia in California, these districts that
they did think that they were going to lose in 2020 that they want to take
back in 2022. So this idea that the Republican Party is somehow being
defined by QAnon, it just isn’t true, and there’s a number of Republicans
on the record rejecting it.

BAIER:  Harold, you were once a congressman. This is one Congresswoman out
of 435, and yet she is not receiving the same punishment, if you will, in
the Republican caucus that Steve King from Iowa received for his comments
that he made about white nationalism. Your thoughts on this?

FORD:  Not only that, I think it’s a sad day we are even having to talk
about these things. I can’t imagine anyone on this panel tonight supports
the hateful and incendiary things that this Congresswoman has said. But to
put it in perspective, to add a little more silliness to the craziness, the
Republican House Caucus may be on the verge this evening of taking a
stronger stance against Liz Cheney for a vote of conscience she took than
they are against this Congresswoman for some of the hateful and conspiracy-
fueled views that she has spread. It’s a sad day in Congress if that’s the
case.

BAIER:  McCarthy is saying tonight that he stands by Liz Cheney and keeping
her in a leadership position. She is calling for a vote in the caucus.
They’re still talking about it at this hour.

Byron, what about this? Obviously, everybody on this panel denounces fully
those statements and anything that resembles threats, and a lot of people
have spoken out about it, including Karl Rove, saying that they should
really look at this. However, it is the voters in Georgia who decide
whether she stays in Congress, what about committees?

YORK:  Well, certainly it’s up to the voters whether she stays in Congress.
Look, her statements are indefensible. Republicans should not try to defend
them. On the other hand, this is a political maneuver by Democrats trying
to corner Republicans and embarrass them. But on the other hand, look, they
have removed Republicans, or Congressmen from committees before. It has
happened. They had a Democrat, Katie Hill, who had to leave Congress after
racy pictures and having a relationship with a staffer. So this happens,
and sometimes members leave.

BAIER:  We will see what it looks like after this meeting tonight and the
vote tomorrow. Panel, stand by. When we come back, we look at tomorrow’s
headlines tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER:  Finally tonight, a look at tomorrow’s headlines tonight. Katie,
first to you.

PAVLICH:  All right, President Biden is going to invoke the Defense
Production Act to produce more COVID tests for immigrants and unaccompanied
minors at the border to deal with the upcoming and ongoing surge.

BAIER:  All right, Byron?

YORK:  This is a hopeful headline. For a second time, Biden raises daily
vaccine goal. Remember he started out with a goal of 1 million a day. We
were already there, had to raise it to 1.5 million. Now we’re over 1.3.
Hopefully, he’ll have to raise it again soon.

BAIER:  OK, Harold, tomorrow’s headline tonight.

FORD:  In memory and honor of the fallen Capitol police officer and FBI
agents in Florida, my headline is not a day goes by that law enforcement
doesn’t risk it all to protect us. My prayers go out to the Sicknick family
this evening.

BAIER:  Thank you very much. That was quite a memorial service today, last
night and today, up on Capitol Hill.

And just a reminder, panel. One year ago today, Bernie Sanders won the most
votes in the Iowa caucus. It took them three days because of the voting
snafus to declare victory, and he didn’t win any more after the nomination.

All right, thanks a lot. Thank you for inviting us into your home tonight.
That’s it for the SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and unafraid.

Have you seen the show, “FOX NEWS PRIMETIME,” this week hosted by Trey
Gowdy? It’s his fourth night of doing it. And I’m going to give him 14
extra seconds to fill his show.

END

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