President Joe Biden spent a significant portion of his address to the nation on Thursday railing against Republicans he said fostered “bullying in schools” by attempting to thwart guidelines from officials designed to help control the spread of the coronavirus.
“Local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while the governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their job — talk about bullying in schools,” Biden went on to say in the State Dining Room on Thursday. He said that for those whose pay is threatened, “I promise you, I will have your back.”
“If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,” Biden said, going on to add that the federal government had already started to take legal action against states they have accused of undermining local authorities. While Biden didn’t name Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis openly, the president has gotten into a number of back-and-forth repeatedly with him in recent months.
The president unveiled a six-pronged strategy designed to limit infection rates as children return to classrooms this fall and businesses itch to resume normal operations.
Besides getting more shots into the arms of teachers and children ages 12 and up, Biden is calling for sweeping mitigation measures, such as widespread mask-wearing and tests.advertisement — content continues below
The president’s plan calls for vaccine mandates for some federal workers, boosting access to free COVID-19 tests, and requiring mask-wearing. By invoking the Defense Production Act, he said the cost of self-administered rapid tests would drop by about a third.
The playbook will also level punitive measures, doubling fines for people who refuse to wear masks while traveling.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” the president said, taking a few shots at folks who’ve gotten into some altercations with flight attendants and others over such measures. “And by the way, show some respect.”
The president went on to say he would not allow the unvaccinated hold back the economy.
“We cannot let unvaccinated [people undo] this progress,” he stated.