White House slams Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over ban on vaccine mandates


White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates for businesses in his state, accusing him of “putting politics ahead of public health.”

Ms. Psaki’s comments come one day after Mr. Abbott, a Republican, signed an executive order banning COVID-19 mandates from being imposed on “any entity,” including businesses.

The decision puts him at odds with the Biden administration, which last month announced plans to require all employers with 100 or more workers to adopt vaccine mandates or increase testing.

“I think it’s pretty clear when you make a choice that’s against the public health information and data out there that it’s not based on what is in the interests of the people you are governing,” she told reporters. “It’s perhaps in the interests of your own politics.”

Ms. Psaki said more than 68,000 deaths in Texas have been linked to COVID-19, adding that Mr. Abbott‘s executive order makes it “more difficult to save lives across the country or in any state.”

Several Dallas-based businesses, including Southwest Airlines and AT&T, have ordered employees to get vaccinated by the end of the week.

Southwest said Tuesday that it will continue to mandate vaccines for its employees, saying that a federal regulation “supersedes any state mandate or law.”

Still, Mr. Abbott remained defiant. He called the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate “another instance of federal overreach” and accused the administration of “bullying businesses.”

Mr. Biden is waiting for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to finalize the regulations for the federal mandate before implementing it.

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