So far, Biden’s transition team has taken a light approach, saying little about how the incoming administration plans to deal with what will likely be among the first tests of Biden’s ability to overcome political divisions and find consensus.
Another option under consideration is the use of economic incentives, which are likely to be implemented in an upcoming expenditure account, to impose mandates, according to a person familiar with the plans being discussed in Biden’s transition team.
No matter what approach Biden and his team take, experts say the reality is likely to be something like a full set of rules and guidelines in thousands of localities that will rely on social pressure as well as legal enforcement mandates.
“I think the issue of the mandate across the country will be difficult,”
“It is very difficult to implement public health measures because it requires a lot of supplements,” said Dr. Amesh Adalya, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. “I think so [Biden] must use is the moral authority of the presidency and the moral authority of all scholars behind it. “
The process of persuading the Republican governors began in earnest later today, when Biden spoke with the bipartisan members of the executive committee of the National Association of Governors.
Biden’s transition expects all nine governors (including five Republicans) on the executive committee to attend the briefing today, according to a transition official. Biden himself hinted at how he could personally address the leaders of the other party during a press briefing on Monday.
“This does not mean that these changes will be easy or popular, but they are necessary if we want to keep our businesses, our children in school open and our health systems stable,” she said.
As cases have exploded in large parts of rural America, other Republican governors have added or improved orders for masks in recent weeks, including Doug Burgham of North Dakota, Tate Reeves of Mississippi and Jim Justice of West Virginia.
Others may follow suit, but there will almost certainly be detentions. South Dakota Gov. Christie Noem is one of them. An ally of President Donald Trump and a potential presidential candidate in 2024, Noem issued a statement last Friday, claiming that neither she nor the US president has the power to order citizens to wear masks in public.
“Joe Biden realizes that the president has no authority to establish a mandate,” said Noem spokesman Ian Fury. “On this issue, neither did Governor Noem, so she gave her citizens the full range of science and trusted them to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.”
Other Republican governors without mandates took more nuanced positions.
A source close to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee told CNN last week that Lee opposed the issuance of a mask mandate across the state because the majority of Tennessees already live in counties with their own mandates. The source added that the country’s mandate would be counterproductive without buying local law enforcement, which in rural areas is often short of staff and resources.
This underscores Biden’s difficult task. It must be coordinated with governors and local leaders, who can not only get instructions from Washington, but also fight for the practicality of implementing the mandates in disguise.
“The mandate of the federal mask, whatever it may seem, would not really give local law enforcement the power to go out and take any action to enforce it,” Reims said.
Others show up to wait and see the new administration’s approach. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has not issued a nationwide mask mandate, said he remains open to working with Biden on the Covid-19 response – as broadly and vaguely as possible.
“Governor Shield will always work with the federal government in the best interests of Oklahoma, no matter which party is in office,” said Charlie Hanema, Shield’s chief communications officer.
Obstacles to Biden
Federal health officials have long been frustrated by the lack of mandatory mandates in states and local jurisdictions – and sources in agencies such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say Biden will cut his job.
“Let’s be clear. As for masks and things like that, the CDC can only offer guidance. This is not a regulatory agency. The CDC will not have the power to enforce masks,” a federal health official told CNN.
Biden’s team is aware of the challenges this poses. Even before the election, campaign messages were not always clear. Biden has repeatedly said he will have to wear a mask “from an executive point of view.” While this could be interpreted as a call for a national mandate, his campaign became clear when asked about Biden’s comments that he was relying on his executive to appoint masks on federal property.
The statutes of the PHSA specify that the provisions must prevent the spread of disease between countries or foreign transmission. Josh Blackman, a professor of law at South Texas who specializes in constitutional law, said the law should be read very widely to give the president the power to require, for example, people to wear a mask while walking outside. or traveling on an interstate highway within the borders of their country.
“I don’t think the statute can be read widely enough to apply to all people who just drive on an interstate highway,” Blackman said. “Once you go beyond the people in the federal facilities, you really intrude on what the state is responsible for.”
Blackman said it was possible for Congress to link relief funding to disguise mandates, but that Biden was limited in what he could do unilaterally by executive order, in the same way that Trump was restricted by the courts from punishing cities. which provide a safe port for undocumented. immigrants.
“President Trump has tried to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities. But the courts have largely rejected that effort,” Blackman said.
This means that Biden’s options for accepting mandates across the country will rely on a combination of political stimulus and old-fashioned politics. Biden, on the other hand, seems irritated by the resistance of the Republican governors.
“Does anyone understand why the governor would turn this into a political statement?” Biden told a news briefing. “It’s about patriotism, about patriotism, about saving lives.”
CNN’s Sarah Mucha, Arlette Saenz, Annie Grayer and Nick Valencia contributed to this story.