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Biden to GOP governors threatening to sue over vaccine rules: 'Have at it'

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President Biden on Friday told Republican governors threatening lawsuits over his new coronavirus vaccine mandates to “have at it.”

“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. “We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”

President Biden gestures with his hand while standing at a podium with two microphones and a presidential seal.
President Biden speaks about coronavirus protections in schools during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Washington, D.C., on Friday. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

On Thursday, Biden announced an aggressive new approach to combating the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which mandates that all federal employees and contractors, as well as health care workers who treat patients on Medicaid or Medicare, get vaccinated against COVID-19. The plan also requires private companies with more than 100 employees to require them to be immunized or undergo weekly testing.

The president’s new vaccine rules prompted accusations of overreach from several Republican governors who threatened to challenge the mandates in court.

“Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared on Twitter Thursday. He said his state “is already working to halt this power grab.”

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said he asked his state’s attorney general to “to stand prepared to take all actions to oppose this administration’s unconstitutional overreach of executive power,” while Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp similarly vowed to “pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia” to oppose Biden’s vaccine mandates.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted at Biden, “See you in court.”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also called the mandates “unconstitutional” and “authoritarian,” saying in a statement that “the RNC will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties.”

President Biden in a classroom, leans over a student's desk in conversation, while Jill Biden and other adults are seen behind him, all wearing face masks.
Biden talks to students at Brookland Middle School on Friday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Legal experts have said that such mandates are constitutional and that the president has the authority to impose vaccine mandates on private businesses under existing laws that require companies to comply with federal health safety standards. Biden has directed the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, to draft an emergency rule to enforce the vaccine mandate for private-sector employees.

Asked about the Republican backlash to the mandates following a visit to a Washington, D.C., middle school on Friday, Biden said, “One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn’t have to be this way.”

“They’re growing up in an environment where they see it’s like a war, like a bitter feud,” he continued. “It’s not who we are as a nation. It’s not how we beat every other crisis in our history. We’ve got to come together.”

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