Biden to GOP governors planning vaccine mandate lawsuits: ‘Have at it’

President Biden on Friday dismissed arguments from Republicans that his administration’s new vaccine requirements amount to federal overreach and said some GOP governors are being “cavalier” with the health of their constituents.

Asked about opponents vowing to challenge the new vaccination measures, Biden replied: “Have at it.”

“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,” Biden said during an appearance at a Washington, D.C., school. “We’re playing for real here, and this isn’t a game, and I don’t know of any scientist out there in this field that doesn’t think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I’ve suggested.”

The president did not name any Republican governors, though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp are among those promising to sue over a new administration rule that says businesses with more than 100 employees must require employees be vaccinated. Biden on Thursday also announced a requirement that most federal workers be vaccinated.

The president has previously criticized governors including Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for blocking mask mandates in schools. During Thursday’s speech from the White House, Biden vowed to use his power as president to get governors “out of the way” if they won’t help beat the pandemic.

“One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn’t have to be this way,” Biden said Friday. “Politics doesn’t have to be this way. They’re growing up in an environment where they see it’s like a war, like a bitter feud. If a Democrat says right, everybody says left. … It’s not how we are, it’s not how we are as a nation and it’s not how we beat every other crisis in our history.”

Biden went on to say that the country needs to come together and noted that polling data shows a majority of the public supports vaccine mandates.

DeSantis has been fighting to impose a ban on mask mandates in schools, which would require districts to allow parents to opt out or else face a financial penalty. A circuit judge ruled Florida schools must be allowed to impose mandates; DeSantis has filed an emergency appeal against the ruling.

Before his remarks on Friday, the president and first lady Jill Biden, who is herself a teacher, toured Brookland Middle School with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).

During his prepared remarks, Biden spoke about the anxiety felt by parents during the pandemic over the possibility that schools would not physically reopen and sought to project confidence that his administration would do everything possible to ensure in-person learning continues.  

“We’re going to be OK, we’re going to be OK. We know what it takes to keep our children safe and our schools open,” President Biden said, outlining his newly announced six-part plan for getting the pandemic under control.

He touted vaccinations for Americans age 12 and over and said that 65 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 in the nation’s capital have gotten at least one shot. 

“Once you all get vaccinated you’re invited to a special visit at the White House,” the president told students.

He went on to say his administration would work to expand testing in schools and reiterated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for children and teachers to wear masks in the classroom. Biden said he would be on the side of schools implementing mask rules “no matter how much heat you are getting from outside.”

Tags Brian Kemp Doug Ducey Greg Abbott Jill Biden Joe Biden Kristi Noem mask mandates Miguel Cardona Muriel Bowser Ron DeSantis vaccine mandates
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