President Joe Biden doesn’t “believe” he has the power to override Republican governors on COVID-19 policy in states like Florida and Texas, the president told reporters Tuesday.
Biden made the comment in response to shouted questions from reporters following a Tuesday speech at the White House. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have both instituted a ban on mask mandates in their states. (RELATED: ‘No Restrictions And No Mandates’: DeSantis Announces Executive Order Protecting Children From Mask Mandates In Schools)
“Do you have presidential powers to intervene in states like Texas and Florida where they are banning mask mandates?” a reporter asked.
“I don’t believe that I do thus far. We’re checking that,” Biden responded. “But federal workforce I can.”
DeSantis and Abbott argue that mask mandates harm residents, especially young students looking to return to normal school rhythms.
“The force masking, it has harmed students … Shouldn’t this be something that the parent is at best to evaluate, the effect that this will have on their children?” DeSantis said July 30. “Why would we have government force masks on our kids when many of these kids are already immune through prior infection, they’re virtually at zero risk of significant illness, and when virtually every school personnel, they’ve had access to vaccines for months.”
“I want to empower parents to be able to make the best decisions they can for the well-being of their children,” DeSantis added.
Biden’s statement echoes his language from early July regarding the potential of a new eviction moratorium. Biden and other White House officials argued for weeks that the executive branch lacked the authority to extend the existing eviction moratorium or create a new one.
“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those American’s both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said July 29. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could not impose an eviction moratorium without express direction from Congress in the form of new legislation. While the White House cited this roadblock for weeks, it nevertheless imposed an eviction moratorium with dubious constitutional standing last week.