Biden calls top donor NEA ‘one of America’s indispensable organizations’

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President Biden said Friday that the National Education Association, among the very most generous donors to his campaign and liberal causes, is “one of America’s indispensable organizations.” 

Biden’s campaign raked in just over $232,000 from teachers unions during the 2020 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ “Open Secrets” website. The site says the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) “account for practically all” political spending from teachers unions.

The second-highest recipient was Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who got $50,996. 

The amount of money that went directly to any one candidate, however, pales in comparison to the money teachers unions donated to liberal groups in general — over $23.5 million from the NEA and over $14 million from the AFT. Combined, those two groups spent $43 million in political expenditures during the 2020 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. 

They both endorsed Biden for the presidency in March.

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In remarks in Washington to the NEA, of which his wife Jill is a member, Biden joked: “If I didn’t support the NEA, I’d be sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom alone-and that’s not where we sleep. We don’t sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom, I’d be sent down to it.” He recounted the struggles of remote learning he’d watched the first lady face over the past year as she taught full-time. Teachers unions forcefully pushed back on plans to reopen schools they deemed unsafe during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

To members of the union, he said: “You deserve a raise, not just praise.”

“Over the last year, the entire country has witnessed the extraordinary dedication and resolve of the NEA members: teachers, professionals,” he said, heaping on acclaim. The NEA has over 3 million members, according to its website. 

Critics slammed the NEA and AFT’s influence over the Centers for Disease Control in May when communications obtained by the New York Post through a Freedom of Information Act request by conservative group Americans for Public Trust showed numerous emails between top CDC officials and the union just days before the administration released school reopening guidelines in February. 

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The lobbying efforts were a reported success as the Post found at least two instances when “suggestions” were used nearly word-for-word within the CDC’s guidelines.

The CDC had been prepared to allow in-school instruction regardless of transmission rates. But at the suggestion of the union, the guidelines were adjusted to include a provision that said, “In the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.”

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The union further requested that teachers be granted remote work access for those “who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk.” Similar provisions were included for “staff who have a household member” that is considered high risk to the virus.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Evie Fordham contributed to this report. 


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