(CNN) — President Joe Biden on Thursday defended his administration’s new vaccination mandates, saying Republican governors who undermine the requirements are putting lives at risk.
“We are facing great pressure, especially from some Republican governors. The governors of Florida and Texas are doing everything they can to undermine the life-saving requirements that I have proposed,” Biden said, pointing specifically to Republican governors Greg Abbott. from Texas and Ron DeSantis from Florida.
Biden also pointed to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, who criticized the vaccination requirements as “clearly unconstitutional” and compared them to “tyranny.”
Biden said: “In Mississippi, children are required to get vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more. They are state requirements. But in the midst of a pandemic already it has claimed more than 660,000 lives, I propose a vaccination requirement against covid and the governor of that state calls it ‘a tyrannical measure’? A tyrannical measure? “
“This is the worst kind of politics because it is putting the lives of the citizens of your states at risk, especially children. And I refuse to give in to it,” Biden said.
The president said the vaccination requirements would save lives and are “what science tells us to do.” He also stated that the new mandates would help strengthen the economy and stimulate economic growth.
Biden last week imposed new strict vaccination rules for federal workers, large companies and healthcare personnel, in his greatest advance so far to demand vaccination in much of the country and contain the most recent wave of Covid-19. The new requirements could apply to up to 100 million Americans, which is about two-thirds of the nation’s workforce.
Biden also argued that the US is at a turning point in pushing for approval of its economic packages in Congress.
“I think we’re at a tipping point in this country, one of those times where the decisions that we’re going to make can literally change the trajectory of our nation. (It can change it) for years and possibly decades,” Biden said. speaking from the White House.
The president continued, “Every turning point in the history of this nation represents a fundamental choice. I believe America is facing that choice right now.”
“The choice is this: Are we going to continue with an economy in which the overwhelming part of the profits goes to large companies and the wealthiest? Or are we going to take advantage of this moment to guide this country down a new path? Invest in this nation, create real sustained economic growth that benefits everyone, including workers and the middle class? “said Biden.
Differences by economic package
The speech occurs at a time when the strong divisions in the Democratic Party threaten to hamper Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion economic package to expand the nation’s social safety net, which is the centerpiece of the president’s agenda.
The $ 3.5 trillion plan includes funding for paid family leave, education, healthcare and the fight against the climate crisis. Senators disagree on the cost of the plan, the tax increases to pay for it, the health care provisions in the proposal and the climate provisions that some insist should be included.
On Thursday, Biden continued to push for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans and businesses, something some senators disagree with.
“Big companies and the super-rich have to start paying their fair share of taxes. It should have been done a long time ago. I don’t want to punish anyone. I’m a capitalist. If you can make a million or a billion dollars, that’s great. God bless you. All I ask is that you pay your fair share, “Biden said.
Disagreements within the Democratic Party over many aspects of the plan have raised questions about whether the 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus will be able to rally quickly around the legislation. Democrats plan to pass this legislation using the budget reconciliation process, which only requires 50 votes and therefore would not need Republican support.
If that economic package stalls in the Senate, liberals warn they will also sink the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is also key on Biden’s agenda.
Congressional leaders set a deadline until the end of September for the House of Representatives to pass their massive budget bill alongside the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Earlier this week, Biden focused on the investments the two economic proposals would make to tackle the climate crisis.
The president traveled to California and Idaho to inspect the damage caused by the wildfires, arguing that extreme weather events were only increasing in intensity and frequency and that the nation must act quickly to address the climate crisis.
The packages contain hundreds of billions of new climate investments, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says will enable the U.S. to meet Biden’s goal of reducing emissions from fossil fuels in 50-52% compared to 2005 levels by 2030.