Joe Biden has frequently attacked Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Democrat doesn’t seem to have his own story straight.
The former vice president said Monday that he no longer supports a national mask mandate, all but admitting to Arizona’s CBS 5 that the proposal is not legal, according to Breitbart.
Biden walks back mask mandate
Biden’s national mask mandate was his first big policy proposal after hitting the campaign trail with his new running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris (D), in August. The Democrat White House hopeful suggested at the time that “every single American” should wear a mask outside for three months, claiming it would save 40,000 lives, as CBS News reported.
“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum. Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing,” Biden had said.
But he now seems to have changed his mind, telling an interviewer that he has doubts a national mandate is constitutional, according to Breitbart.
“Here’s the deal, the federal government — there’s a constitutional issue whether federal government could issue such a mandate. I don’t think constitutionally they could, so I wouldn’t issue a mandate,” the former vice president said.
“I’m a constitutionalist,” Biden added. “You can’t do things the Constitution does not allow you the power to do.”
Democrats have made President Trump’s handling of the pandemic one of their central arguments against the incumbent, often complaining about a lack of a federal, standardized response while needling Trump over his reluctance to wear masks. Biden has called it a “patriotic” duty for Americans to cover their faces.
But Biden’s new position is actually similar to that of the president, who has said that governors must make their own choices about mask-wearing. There’s an important distinction, though, as Biden said he would put “as much pressure as I could” on state and local officials to adopt a federal standard, adding that he would “set an example” for citizens to follow.
“It’s about making sure the public is safe and secure, and that is a local decision but there should be national standards laid out as to how it should be gone about. You can’t mandate that,” he continued.
As the New York Post notes, Biden endorsed the idea of a national mandate several times before switching his view, asserting at one point, “Yes, I would from an executive standpoint, yes I would.”
So, which is it, Joe?