Psaki rejects talk of federal vaccine deadline extension

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has dismissed reports that the Biden administration has recommended federal agencies avoid firing employees not compliant with Covid vaccine mandate until after the holidays.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget released the memo in question, according to ABC News, which obtained the communication. In it, they recommend agencies hold off on punishing employees until after the holidays, leaving them employment that lasts through Christmas and New Year, before they have to greet 2022 with a job search, according to ABC.

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Asked during a press briefing on Monday about a possible extension on the vaccination deadline for federal workers – which was earlier this month – Psaki denied any such move. She said any suggestion that the deadlines are being extended is “inaccurate.” However, Psaki did acknowledge there was always a plan for “counseling” as an initial approach to noncompliant employees.

The federal employee workforce has not faced anywhere near as many roadblocks as mandates for private employers, with far less legal questions to tackle. According to the White House, over 96% of the federal workforce is in compliance with the mandate. 

Being in compliance at the moment does not mean someone is fully vaccinated, but rather that they have received at least one dose of a vaccine or they have an approved exemption.

News that the Biden administration could be holding off on the firings and suspensions they have been threatening for weeks has led many critics to question the effectiveness of the mandates themselves. 

“The virus will wait until those holiday credit card statements come rolling in,” writer Kristen Fleming tweeted

“It’s just a matter of clearing things with the virus first. Biden is a master negotiator,” pundit Jim Treacher added

Biden’s proposed private-sector mandate has meanwhile been hit with a variety of lawsuits from states and companies. The looming order was halted recently by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which cited constitutional concerns with the mandate. Biden’s administration has attempted to lift this freeze, and will soon need to go through emergency hearings to defend the mandate’s legality.

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