President Joe Biden on Friday told opponents of his administration’s Covid vaccine mandates to “have at it” with legal challenges, lamenting that the issue has grown so politicized.
“I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” he said.
On Thursday, Biden announced a series of vaccine mandates that will affect over 100 million Americans: all federal employees and contractors, workers at companies with over 100 employees, federal workers who are employed at a health care provider receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding, and employees at schools receiving Head Start funding, among others.
Republican governors have already announced their intent to challenge these mandates, including Brian Kemp of Georgia and Kristi Noem of South Dakota. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state has lifted virtually all pandemic mitigation measures, said in a press conference that he opposes “mandates of any kind.”
In remarks Friday at a school in Washington, Biden vented his frustration with governors who have been unwilling to more aggressively compel their states’ residents to get vaccinated. Biden added that there’s “not a scientist in this field” who would say that his proposals, including the vaccine requirements, aren’t common sense.
“If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” he said in his Thursday address.
In a Friday afternoon press conference, press secretary Jen Psaki defended the right of the Biden administration under the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act.
“It requires the Department of Labor to take action when it finds grave risk to workers. And certainly a pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people and where 25 percent of eligible people have not yet been vaccinated, poses a grave risk.”
Psaki also addressed Biden’s frustration toward unvaccinated Americans.
“We didn’t anticipate, I will say, that when there was a vaccine approved under a Republican president, that the Republican president took, that there would be such hesitation, opposition, vehement opposition, in some cases, by so many people of his own party in this country,” she said Friday.
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