President Joe Biden said Wednesday he wants the federal government to take governors to court if they ban mask mandates in school.
Biden tried to claim that he was rising above partisan politics.
“[S]ome politicians are trying to turn public safety measures — that is, children wearing masks in school — into political disputes for their own political gain. Some are even trying to take power away from local educators by banning masks in school. They’re setting a dangerous tone,” Biden said at a White House COVID-19 briefing.
Although Biden said “cases may be declining in a few places,” he claimed children must wear masks to school, a subject that has provoked vast disagreement among experts who believe masks will be harmful to children.
Biden, however, accused those opposing mask mandates of “intimidation and the threats we’re seeing across the country,” saying such opposition to mask mandates is “unacceptable.”
“And that’s why, today, I am directing the secretary of education — an educator himself — to take additional steps to protect our children. This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal actions, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators,” Biden said.
“As I’ve said before, if you aren’t going to fight COVID-19, at least get out of the way of everyone else who is trying. You know, we’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children,” he said.
From Florida, Republican voices questioned whether Biden was simply trying to find a war he could actually win.
“While you have all this stuff going on with Afghanistan, obviously all of the stuff at the southern border… one of the biggest border disasters in the history of our country, inflation, gas prices, and what does he do?” Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, according to Fox News.
“He is obsessed with having the government force kindergarteners to wear masks all day in school,” he said.
DeSantis said politics and opportunism were at the heart of opposition to his ban on mask mandates.
“At the end of the day, you have local officials who do not believe they need to follow the law. That’s what this is about. They are trying to posture it about me, because if you make it about me, you get on CNN,” DeSantis said Wednesday, according to the Miami Herald. “We know that because that’s just how the game is played.”
One pollster said despite its claims, the Biden administration is wading in the political swamp for a political purpose.
“It’s evident that the Biden administration sees Ron DeSantis stepping onto a political landmine around the issue of mask mandates and protecting children in Florida,” Fernand Amandi, a Miami-based Democratic pollster, told the Herald.
“Team Biden is not going to pass up an opportunity to sink a potential Republican presidential nominee that they might very well run against,” he said.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Biden has his priorities wrong.
“It is a lot easier to take cheap shots at Florida than actually lead a country. Instead of calling an interim superintendent here in Florida, perhaps President Biden should have been focused on what was happening on his watch in Afghanistan,” Rubio told the Herald.
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