President Joe Biden has been hammered by all sides over his disastrous handling of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan — so, naturally, he sought to change the subject Wednesday with a speech about the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Breitbart, Biden dedicated part of his talk to castigating Republican governors nationwide for attempting to block Democrat efforts to require American students to wear masks in the classroom when they return to school this fall.
“We’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators from protecting our children,” Biden said Wednesday, according to Breitbart.
“Setting a dangerous tone”
The president’s speech, which came alongside a memo to the secretary of education, also raised the possibility that the federal government could take legal action against state governors who refuse to fall in line on the topic of mask requirements.
“Unfortunately, as we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures — that is, children wearing masks in school — into political disputes for their own political gain,” Biden said, according to a transcript from the White House. “Some are even trying to take power away from local educators by banning masks in school. They’re setting a dangerous tone.”
The president went on: “The intimidation and the threats we’re seeing across the country are wrong. They’re unacceptable.”
“Get out of the way”
According to the transcript, Biden also noted that he was personally encouraging school districts that have undermined governors’ orders against mask mandates, referencing his memo authorizing Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to use “all of his oversight authorities and legal actions, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.”
“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,” Biden declared.
The Republican-led states President Biden was not so subtly threatening, according to Politico, include Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah — all of which have taken action to prevent local jurisdictions, including school districts, from imposing mask mandates. Instead, they’ve largely made masking voluntary.
Threat of legal action
According to Politico, Cardona suggested in a separate interview Wednesday that he was considering using his department’s Office of Civil Rights to launch investigations into those states, echoing Biden’s promise.
The department has already sent threatening letters to a handful of states asserting that their voluntary mask policies for schools “are at odds” with certain requirements within the American Rescue Plan, which had distributed funds to help states and schools take steps to resume full-time, in-person learning for students.
Meanwhile, as Breitbart notes, questions about Afghanistan — including what the Biden administration plans to do to help the thousands of Americans and allies in harm’s way in Kabul — remain unanswered by the White House.