The White House is sticking with its January vaccine mandate deadline despite the federal agency tasked with enforcement delaying its crackdown.
President Joe Biden is still encouraging businesses with more than 100 employees to require their staff to be inoculated against COVID-19, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
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"Our message to businesses right now is to move forward with measures that will make their workplaces safer and protect them, their workforces, from COVID-19," she told reporters Thursday.
Psaki cited polling released this week that suggested 60% of businesses were rolling out vaccine mandate components, even after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the rule and the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced it would not implement it yet.
"We are still heading towards the same timeline. The Department of Justice is vigorously defending the emergency temporary standard in court, and we're confident in OSHA's ability," Psaki said.
Thursday's press briefing, convened while the White House hosted bilateral and trilateral meetings with the Canadian prime minister and Mexican president, was foreign policy-heavy. Psaki bristled at criticism that Biden's Canada policy, particularly regarding protectionist trade practices, echoes that of Trump.
"I think the list of differences is probably a laundry list and the list of similarities probably fits on the back of a tiny napkin," she said.
Psaki also implored Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to lift his hold on Biden's pick to be the administration's top diplomat to China, Nicholas Burns. Biden spoke face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since his inauguration this week, although their discussion was still virtual. Xi caused a fracas by referring to Biden as "old friend" at the start of their conversation, and then Biden created a flap by misstating his official position concerning Taiwan's independence.
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"This is a country where we vitally need an ambassador, at a time where we have a lot of business, engagement, and follow-up work to be done," Psaki said. "So we are certainly eager to see his nomination move forward."