AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) spoke with Breitbart News about his decision to fight President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, saying he “had to stand up and protect those freedoms of people not having their bodies basically invaded by a vaccine that they do not want.”
Breitbart News’s exclusive interview with the Lone Star State governor came just days before Dallas-based Southwest Airlines announced it would be scrapping its plan to place unvaccinated employees with pending exemptions on unpaid leave after a December deadline.
Abbott issued an executive order earlier this month banning any entity in Texas — including private businesses — from mandating the coronavirus vaccine. “I talked to too many Texans around the entire state, who were literally crying because they faced either losing their job or compromising their own values and safety by getting the vaccine,” he explained to Breitbart News on Friday. “One of the catalysts behind my action was to ensure that people would not be losing their jobs.”
Immediately after Abbott issued his executive order, Southwest Airlines and Fort Worth-based American Airlines both said they would be ignoring the governor’s order, but Abbott revealed to Breitbart News that “the day after Southwest said they would not comply, they did issue a [statement] saying that no one at Southwest will be terminated … and we have received similar information from American Airlines that may not have been published yet.”
The Texas Republican said he wanted to “set the counterbalance against the Biden administration to say that no one can be compelled to take a vaccine.”
The two-term governor has a history of being a “counterbalance,” as he calls it, to the left. As Texas attorney general, Abbott sued the Obama administration 27 times, but even over the course of Biden’s nine months in office, Abbott has gone against the grain as he was one of the first governors in the country to fully open his state back up for business and terminate mask mandates.
When asked about the legal strategy for keeping his vaccine mandate ban alive given the inevitable challenge from the federal government, Abbott admitted that “this is headed toward a legal showdown” but that he felt “very confident” Texas will win, explaining that, “Neither the President of the United States, nor the Federal Government have any legal authority — any constitutional authority — to issue their vaccine mandate. … [T]hroughout the history of the United States of America, it has been governors in states that have been in charge of health and safety of the people who are residents of those states, not the federal government. So, from the legal side, I feel like we’re on solid ground. Also, from the constitutional side in this regard, and that is part of the governor’s job is to ensure that the freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of our positions are going to be protected.”
The reference to no constitutional authority speaks to the fact that the U.S. Constitution assigns “police power” issues of public health, public safety, personal responsibility, and social welfare to the 50 states, instead of the federal government.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, however, regarded Abbott’s mandate ban as a– purely political move. To this charge, Abbott replied that the mandate itself was “politics by the Biden administration.”
“Clearly they’re acting completely contrary to the Constitution,” the governor continued. “One thing that Biden has failed to do [is] work in collaboration with the states. He had every opportunity to work in collaboration with the states, but let’s look at what the CEO of Delta said yesterday: the CEO of Delta Airlines said yesterday that a vaccine mandate is a blunt tool that is not needed because there are other effective ways to address this issue without that blunt tool from the federal government.”
Abbott’s comments come as part of a wide-ranging interview for the latest edition of Breitbart News’s On The Hill video series, which will be released in the coming weeks.