Biden’s selective COVID emergency | Washington Examiner

IIs the pandemic over now, or will it end in May, or August, or after Election Day? Depending on the issue, the Biden administration’s response is “all of the above.”

The pandemic is now over when it comes to the White House masking and the shockingly low unemployment rate. As for masks in transit and Title 42, the Trump-era policy of turning back migrants at the border, the pandemic will end in May. When it comes to ending the student loan repayment pause, the pandemic will end on August 31, or possibly after Election Day.

“Between now and August 31, either it’s going to be extended or we’re going to make a decision, like [White House chief of staff] Ron [Klain] referenced, about canceling student debt,” administration spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on the Pod Save America Podcast.

On April 6, Biden announced the final extension of the student loan repayment pause with a statement that read in part, “We are still recovering from the pandemic and the unprecedented economic disruption it has caused.” Less than 24 hours later, Biden touted the low unemployment numbers with another statement saying, “America is back to work.”

In March, the White House dropped its mask mandate along with the rest of Washington, DC, but still requires masks aboard Air Force One and vowed to appeal a federal judge’s decision overturning the mandate. federal mask.

Biden announced he would end Title 42 despite record increases in border immigration on May 23, and reports circulated that parts of it were already unenforced by the end of April.

“It’s all over the map, isn’t it?” said Republican strategist Doug Heye. “It looks like they want to deliver two messages at once.”

Despite the mixed signals, it’s clear that the time for COVID-related mandates is coming to an end, Heye added, noting that Democratic governors have led efforts to end forced masking this spring.

This scenario could happen again.

The US Senate voted to repeal the federal mask mandate in March, with eight Democrats joining Republicans in the effort. More recently, a group of centrist Democrats led by Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona introduced legislation that would keep Title 42 in place until at least 60 days after Biden ends the country’s COVID emergency, attempting to explicitly link the policy to broader pandemic measures.

After the federal mask mandate was rescinded, videos circulated of airline pilots making mid-flight announcements met with applause and cheers from passengers. A crew played Kool & the Gang’s 1980 hit “Celebration” over the plane’s public address system. The airlines had pushed to end the mandate, under which their employees had to wear masks all day while working.

Democratic leaders counter that the mandate remains popular. A poll of the Associated press– NORC’s Public Affairs Research Center found that 56% of respondents were in favor of mask requirements on public transport, with 24% opposed and 20% undecided.

Another poll was more divided. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51% wanted the mask mandate to expire, but with a strong partisan divide. More than 7 in 10 Democrats wanted it extended, while 76% of Republicans wanted it gone.

There may be disagreement even within the Biden administration on the next step. PSAKI said the White House was disappointed to see the end of the federal mandate, but when the president was asked if people should wear masks on planes, he said it was “up to them.” Hours later, the White House announced it would appeal the judge’s decision pending the CDC’s opinion.

Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was also behind the decision to remove Title 42, citing “current public health conditions and increased availability of tools to combat COVID-19” as the explanation for why it should end.

Despite the impending downturns, Democratic strategist Brad Bannon is encouraging Biden to pursue all remaining pandemic-related measures for now, including Title 42, due to the looming threat of further waves of the virus.

“I think the administration should follow the precepts of science,” he said. “The Trump administration found out what the science was and did the exact opposite. I hope this administration builds on the science and follows it.”

Bannon worries that easing measures like mask mandates too quickly could fuel cases, leading to a new round of calls for tougher restrictions.

“Every time we relaxed in the fight against COVID, it came back with a vengeance,” he said. “My advice to the administration is to err on the side of caution.”

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