WATCH: Biden Says Power to Enforce National Vax Mandate ‘Still a Question’ — WH Says They’re Not Exploring That ‘At All’
President Joe Biden said that the authority to enact a nationwide mandate is “still a question,” but the White House clarified that the Biden administration is not exploring that authority “at all.”
Following his speech entitled “Laying Out the Next Steps in Our Effort to Get More Americans Vaccinated and Combat the Spread of the Delta Variant,” President Biden took questions from reporters, including one about vaccine mandates.
Biden expressed support for local, state, and other vaccine mandates, and said the Department of Justice has determined those mandates are legally sound, but added that the legality of a national mandate is an open question:
Q Why not push for vaccine mandates in states, private companies, schools? Do you want to see those entities pass vaccine mandates?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I — I’d like to see them continue to move in that direction, and that’s why I point it out. I had asked the Justice Department to determine whether that is — they’re able to do that legally, and they can. Local communities can do that. Local businesses can do that.
It’s still a question whether the federal government can mandate the whole country. I don’t know that yet.
The aside raised eyebrows that included those of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who quizzed White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients about the possibility of a blanket mandate from the federal government.
Zients shut that idea down completely:
The president also left open the possibility that the federal government could require vaccines for all Americans. Is that something the administration right now is exploring?
ZIENTS: No. That’s not an authority that we’re exploring at all. But I think what the president was referring to is his Justice Department has said that it is legal for employers to require vaccination. And there are, as we talked about at the top, many businesses, local governments stepping up, requiring vaccination or following the type of system that we talked about, which is that those that are vaccinated have a straightforward path back to work.
Those who are not vaccinated need to go through regular testing, masking, social distancing and other requirements.
Watch above via CNN.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org