“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 a visit to Brookland Middle School in northeast D.C. “This isn’t a game” The new federal vaccine requirements would affect private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors.
Biden visited a public school just a short drive from the White House to make the case for new rules he set out a day earlier that could impact 100 million Americans. He also pushed back against Republicans, and some union officials, who say he is overreaching his authority. Biden said they were shirking their responsibility to young Americans. First lady Jill Biden, who joined the president for the school visit, echoed Biden’s message that getting more Americans vaccinated was essential to keep schools open and helping working parents.
“We owe them a promise to keep their schools open as safe as possible,” the first lady said. “We owe them a commitment to follow the science. We owe them unity, so that we can fight the virus, not each other.” Speaking at the White House Thursday, Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said, all but biting off his words. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.” Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come. Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said in a statement that “Biden and the radical Democrats (have) thumbed their noses at the Constitution,” while American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley insisted that “changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate.”
Asked on Friday about potential legal maneuvering to stop enforcement of the new vaccine requirements, Biden shot back: “Have at it.” There have also been strong words of praise for Biden’s efforts to get the nation vaccinated from the American Medical Association, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable — though no direct mention of his mandate for private companies.
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