Joe Biden considering intervening in Ron DeSantis mask mandate ban
Image via AP.

Joe Biden
Though he downplayed his options.

President Joe Biden says the White House is researching whether he has the authority to intervene in bans on mask mandates, such as the one Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered for Florida schools.

Classes started in some Florida school districts Tuesday, and more schools are expected to open throughout the week. However, several school districts will require masks for students anyway, and the DeSantis administration has threatened to withhold the salaries of school administrators who implement those policies against his orders.

The White House is looking for ways to support school board members and superintendents who break state law to follow the federal guidance, but Biden on Tuesday downplayed his options.

“I don’t believe that I do thus far. We’re checking that, but federal workforce I can,” Biden said.

That was a more reserved response than White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave during a briefing earlier in the day when asked about Florida and Texas’ school mask rules.

“We are continuing to look for ways … for the U.S. government to support districts and schools as they try to follow the science (and) do the right thing and save lives,” Psaki said.

Nevertheless, during a stop in Pensacola, DeSantis attacked the Biden administration for using force and coercion. Parents’ rights will be vindicated, he said.

“(I) think that they really believe government should rule over the parents’ decisions, and I think the parents’ decisions in this regard should ultimately be what is done,” DeSantis said. “The fact of the matter is the parents are in the best position to know what’s best for the kids.”

DeSantis’ executive order, issued late last month, allows the Department of Education to take actions to ensure districts adhere to state law, including withholding state funds from noncompliant school boards. In statements to reporters, the Governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, raised the threat of withholding salaries as a way to hit school districts’ wallets without hurting students’ education.

“With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law,” she said.

“Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems,” Pushaw continued. “The Governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.”

DeSantis released the executive order during rising COVID-19 and delta variant cases. Florida has seen record-breaking hospitalizations and case loads since then, but DeSantis and the administration stand firm in their threat against school boards, now offering the “narrowly tailored” threat.

“We don’t want kids to suffer or teachers to suffer for the decisions of elected officials that violate state rules,” Pushaw told Florida Politics.

On Thursday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone Democratic member of the Florida Cabinet, said she was working with the White House to relieve school districts that are punished by the Florida Department of Education. However, she was unable to provide specifics Thursday or Monday.

“I’m so grateful to President Biden for responding to our appeal for supplemental funding for Florida schools and protecting the rights of our local school districts,” Fried said in a statement, calling the Governor’s order unconstitutional.

Psaki noted that school districts still have not received federal funding that was sent to the state through the American Rescue Plan and questioned why that is the case. That funding could be used to help education officials who are standing up to the state, Fried added.

The back and forth between Washington and Tallahassee is the latest flareup over the President and Governor’s differing opinions on handling the pandemic.

After Biden told DeSantis and other Republicans to “get out of the way” of local governments trying to combat the virus last week, DeSantis responded, telling the President that he was “standing in your way” and “I don’t want to hear a blip about COVID from you.” Biden dismissed DeSantis’ four-minute remarks, quipping “Governor who?

However, Tuesday’s remarks constituted a more stern reply.

“This is serious,” Psaki said. “We’re talking about people’s lives, and we know based on public health guidelines that even though kids under a certain age are not yet eligible, masks can have a huge impact.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • father gabriel

    August 10, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Vaccination/Covid drama
    causing a sensation

    PLAYWRIGHTS SANCTUARY inspired by Sometimes Floridian/sometimes Catholic
    Sanctuary authorized by late Edward Albee

  • Ed

    August 10, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    I thought that crazy old fool didn’t know who DeSantis was. Hey Joe how about that Southern Border?

  • Ron Ogden

    August 10, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Joe. . .is it Biden or Stalin? Floridians will not bow to Biden, or Fouchee, or Fried or the Democrat oligarchy. If I choose to wear a mask I will–if I choose, not you.

  • Zhombre

    August 10, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    He could simply issue an Executive Order. Its legality, like that on the eviction ban, is immaterial.

  • Alex

    August 10, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    Poor DeathsAnus,

    When the parents are too stupid to immunize and wear masks, that gives them the right to endanger other kids by not making their kid wear a mask.

    The GOP was always ignorant and useless, but this reaches entirely new levels of dangerous stupidity.

    You’re on the side of the stupid?

  • yep

    August 11, 2021 at 9:07 am

    You hit the nail right on the head Alex.
    That is what this is about the right to be stupid, careless and dangerous to everyone around you.

  • Matthew Lusk

    August 11, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    Is corn-pop going to enforce pervert Biden’s orders? Democrats are so low IQ.

    • Zhombre

      August 11, 2021 at 1:38 pm

      Especially the duo who posted above. Invincibly ignorant and arrogant assholes.

      • Alex

        August 11, 2021 at 1:51 pm

        Thank you for making my point about being dangerously stupid.

        • Zhombre

          August 11, 2021 at 2:06 pm

          Thank you for making my point about arrogant assholes.

          • Alex

            August 11, 2021 at 2:52 pm

            Imitation is the best kind of flattery.

            Thank you stupid.

          • Zhombre

            August 11, 2021 at 2:56 pm

            Thank you, asshole. You can make another comment and have the last word which I’m sure your tortured little ego has a compulsive need for. LOL

          • Alex

            August 11, 2021 at 3:00 pm

            Oh you did it again stupid!

            I am the best huh?

            It’s ok to run away now, really.


Comments are closed.


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