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Biden administration threatens to pull COVID-19 relief money from Arizona

By Doug Cunningham
Biden administration threatens to pull COVID-19 relief money from Arizona
Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and his wife Angela walk out to greet the casket of Sen. John McCain that will be lying in state in the rotunda of the Arizona State Capital in Phoenix on August 29, 2018. File Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The Biden administration has given Arizona 60 days to reprogram $173 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus spending to use the money as Biden's American Rescue Act intended.

The Washington post said Friday that a letter was sent by the Treasury Department to Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey that threatens to rescind the funding.

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The Post said Arizona legislators tapped the cash to support a ban on COVID-19 school mask mandates.

"Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged -- mandates that place more stress on students and families aren't," Ducey said in a statement in August announcing the spending. "These grants acknowledge efforts by schools and educators that are following state laws and keeping their classroom doors open for Arizona's students."

Arizona used $163 million of federal COVID relief money to state schools, but only if they obeyed state rules against requiring masks. Another $10 million in grants was offered by Arizona according to a state press release in August 2021 for parents to place their kids in charter schools if their public schools required COVID-19 masks.

The Treasury Department first raised the issue with Arizona in October telling the state the way it was using COVID-19 federal relief money was "not a permissible use" of those American Rescue Plan funds.

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