WASHINGTON — Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona sued the Biden administration on Friday to block its efforts to claw back pandemic relief money that the state has been using to undercut mask requirements in schools.

The lawsuit is the latest legal fight between a Republican-led state and the Biden administration over how the $350 billion in state and local pandemic aid that Congress allocated last year can be used. It follows a series of warnings from the Treasury Department that Arizona could lose some of the $4.2 billion that it was awarded in the rescue package.

The funds in question relate to two education programs that Mr. Ducey, a Republican, established last year in response to mask requirements that some school districts in the state enacted. The state tried unsuccessfully to enact a law banning school mask mandates last year, but Mr. Ducey continues to oppose rules that require them.

The state has used federal money to help schools and students get around the mandates. A $163 million program, funded by federal relief money, provides up to $1,800 per pupil to public and charter schools but excludes schools that require masks.

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By MD Abdullah

Abdullah is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.

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