White House in July: Vaccine Mandates Are ‘Not the Role of the Federal Government’

US President Joe Biden speaks on Covid-19 response and vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on June 2, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The White House in July explicitly stated that coronavirus vaccine mandates are “not the role of the federal government” — an admission made months before President Biden announced federal vaccine mandates he was imposing on private businesses.

During a July 23 press briefing, a reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki if she believed the federal government should “step in and issue mandates.” Psaki, at the time, dismissed such a proposal.

“Well, I think the question here — one, that’s not the role of the federal government; that is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take,” she said.

“That certainly is appropriate.  Also, local communities are going to take steps they need to take in order to protect people in their communities,” Psaki continued, describing the administration’s role as making vaccines “available” and fighting “misinformation.”

“And we’re going to continue to advocate and work in partnership with local officials and — and trusted voices to get the word out,” she said, effectively dismissing the idea that the federal government should take on the role of forcing private businesses to mandate coronavirus vaccines.

Yet, months later, Biden did just that. During a divisive speech in September, the commander-in-chief scolded the unvaccinated while announcing his decision to instruct the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a rule forcing private businesses with over 100 employees to mandate the vaccine or implement weekly testing requirements.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us,” he said, reprimanding unvaccinated Americans and concluding it is “not about freedom or personal choice.”

“It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love,” Biden claimed.

“The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” he proclaimed. “We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the work force that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.”

Weeks ago, Biden asserted there is only a “small percentage” of Americans who oppose vaccine mandates.

“There’s a positive support for mandates – by and large,” Biden told reporters. “There’s always going to be a small percentage that say no.”

The Biden administration has become more emboldened in its public support of mandates. On Tuesday, Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, essentially praised New York’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers after preliminary reports suggested it forced more to get the jab:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64.6 percent of the total U.S. population (75.5 percent of those 12 and older) have received at least one coronavirus shot. Over 55 percent of the total U.S. population is considered fully vaccinated, according to the federal health agency’s data.

On Monday, Biden said he would like to see the U.S. reach 98 percent of Americans vaccinated for the country to return to normal.

Notably, Biden’s administration has been unable to provide a timeline of when to expect OSHA’s rule, despite the fact that he made the announcement more than three weeks ago.


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