San Francisco Chronicle

Biden denounces GOP criticism of his vaccine steps

- By Zeke Miller and Alexandra Jaffe Zeke Miller and Alexandra Jaffe are Associated Press writers.

WASHINGTON — President Biden described some Republican governors as “cavalier” Friday for resisting his call for far-reaching new federal coronaviru­s vaccine requiremen­ts he hopes will curb the surging delta variant.

Biden visited a public school just a short drive from the White House to make the case for new rules he set out a day earlier that could impact 100 million Americans.

He also pushed back against Republican­s, and some union officials, who say he is overreachi­ng his authority. Biden said they were shirking their responsibi­lity to young Americans.

“I am so disappoint­ed that particular­ly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communitie­s,” Biden said during a visit to Brookland Middle School. “This isn’t a game”

The new federal vaccine requiremen­ts would affect private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractor­s.

First lady Jill Biden, who joined the president for the school visit, echoed Biden’s message that getting more Americans vaccinated was essential to keep schools open and helping working parents.

“We owe them a promise to keep their schools open as safe as possible,” the first lady said. “We owe them a commitment to follow the science. We owe them unity, so that we can fight the virus, not each other.”

Speaking at the White House Thursday, Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availabili­ty and incentives.

Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come.

Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said in a statement that “Biden and the radical Democrats (have) thumbed their noses at the Constituti­on,” while American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley insisted that “changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriat­e.”

The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

 ?? Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press ?? President Biden visits with students at Brookland Middle School in Washington. During his tour, Biden defended far-reaching new federal coronaviru­s vaccine requiremen­ts.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press President Biden visits with students at Brookland Middle School in Washington. During his tour, Biden defended far-reaching new federal coronaviru­s vaccine requiremen­ts.

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