Last Updated on August 18, 2021
Biden threatened to take legal action against governors who have banned mask mandates at a press conference on Wednesday. “Vaccines are the best defense and masks are extremely helpful as well. And for those who aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, children under the age of 12, masks are the best available protection for them and the adults around them,” Biden began. “That’s why we need to make sure children are wearing masks in school.”
The president then took aim at state governors who have taken action against mask mandates in public schools. “Last week I called school superintendents in Florida and Arizona to thank them for doing the right thing in schools,” said Biden. “We teach science, so we follow the science,” one of the superintendents allegedly told Biden. He then said that he would be directing Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to take “legal action if appropriate” against governors who are trying to “intimidate local school officials and educators.”
BREAKING: Biden threatens legal action against Governors who ban mask mandates in schools
"I'm gonna say a lot more about children in schools next week." pic.twitter.com/QkQga6IaYH
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 18, 2021
Biden also took a shot at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis without naming him. Through executive order, DeSantis banned mask mandates in K-12 Florida public schools on August 1. As National File reported, the governor later threatened to potentially withhold teacher pay from districts that defy the order. “The State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law,” DeSantis told CBS Miami on August 9.
“We’re not going to sit by as governors try to block and intimidate educators protecting our children. For example, if a governor wants to cut the pay of a hard-working education leader who requires masks in the classroom, the money from the American Rescue Plan can be used to pay that person’s salary,” said Biden.
Arizona, Texas, and Florida are among nine states that have prohibited schools from mandating masks. Twelve other states have mandated masks at all schools in their state, including New York, California and Virginia. The District of Columbia has also mandated masks. For the 28 other states, local school districts have discretion over their own mask policies.
Biden’s remarks were focused on the vaccine and COVID policies on Wednesday. He did not speak about developments in Afghanistan and refused to answer questions from the press. According to Fox News White House Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, Biden has not taken questions from reporters since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
Audible scoffs from some in the press pool as the President once again delivers remarks, but takes no questions.
Biden has not taken any reporter questions since the Taliban took Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/dKuYf7JRip
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 18, 2021