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Our Armchair Revolutionaries

Facts or Opinions? Biden's HHS Secretary Fails to Justify Mask Mandate for Toddlers

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) took Biden's Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to task on Wednesday for a federal mask mandate that still applies to young children and toddlers in Head Start programs even while CDC guidance stated masks were no longer necessary for most Americans. 


Citing concerns raised by her constituents, Stefanik asked Becerra about studies showing mask mandates for young children have led to limited vocabularies, delayed speech development, and difficulties with social interaction and kids' confidence.

"We know that face masks disrupt holistic processing and face perception in school-age children," Stefanik noted. "Even the World Health Organization states 'children aged five years and under do not need to wear masks. Children of this age should not wear masks for a long duration.'"

Noting that "the CDC revised its guidance on February 25th indicating that masks are no longer necessary in the vast majority of this country," Stefanik asked Biden's HHS secretary "Why is your agency still imposing this harmful mask mandate on toddlers and young children in the Head Start program?"

"We know that masks are safe and they are effective," began Becerra's response before saying young children and toddlers "are in danger of contracting COVID." He added that "the science is guiding us on the actual implementation of those policies" and he insisted "there's no contradiction in the fact that masks have proven an effective way to help control COVID."

Stefanik pressed Becerra with another question. "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 — which science in fact proves the masks hurt children both in...intellectual development, speech development — that is the position of President Joe Biden?"


Becerra tried to equivocate, but Stefanik had none of it. "It's a yes or no question," she interjected. "Is that the position of President Joe Biden? You are the cabinet secretary, so the position of this White House, this administration, is to require masks only at this point for children in the Head Start program?" she asked. "We know that science shows that those least impacted by the COVID pandemic are the youngest of young children," Stefanik also noted. 

The best Becerra could offer was to say HHS staff "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 since Head Start is funded primarily through federal dollars."

"Through taxpayer dollars," Stefanik corrected of the often-used Democrat claim that money collected from taxpayers should't be spent in accordance with taxpayers' wishes. "Taxpayers who do not support this mask mandate on children in Head Start on our youngest of young children who the mask mandate is hurting the most," she added.

"Specifically what scientific studies are you relying upon?" she asked, looking to get answers on the source of HHS' mandate for young children. "Are you saying that the HHS position is different than the CDC guidance? Who are the experts in HHS that are circumventing and coming over the top of the CDC recommendations?" she inquired.

Again Becerra struggled to answer, citing "evidence that we have, the studies that have been done, the accumulating evidence we have seen..." before Stefanik interjected.


"From whom? Who were the studies conducted by?" Stefanik asked. "And do you believe the HHS has the authority to make a different decision than CDC?"

Apparently flustered, Becerra failed to list any specific studies to back up the HHS mask mandate for Head Start programs but restated his claim about "studies that have proven that wearing a mask if you're a child helps" and is "safe and effective."

Since Becerra was obsessed with studies, Stefanik raised the others she'd cited: "What do you say to the studies about the speech delay? What do you say to the studies about how in fact the transmission rates and the negative effects of COVID is the lowest of the low when you're talking about children under the age of five? What do you say to those studies?" she pressed. 

Yet again, Becerra denied the existence of science that proved inconvenient to his and the Biden administration's mandate on young children. "The accumulating evidence on child mask wearing is showing that it does not impact their language or emotional development..." he claimed before Stefanik again noted that the evidence on masking young children and toddlers "shows that it doesn't work."

"We each can have our opinion," was Becerra's exasperated response. "You're entitled to your opinion." 

And there it is. Becerra, after waxing poetic about "the Science," then decides science he doesn't like is an opinion while also admitting it's only his opinion that students in Head Start programs should be forcibly masked by government edict.


"You are wrong on this position, and if it is the position of Joe Biden to require mask mandates on only 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 said in conclusion.

"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," she added.

Watch the full exchange here:

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