Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, in an apparent shift, now says his legal team believes he would have the authority to advance a federal mask mandate through an executive order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus should he be elected.
Taking questions from reporters at a campaign event on Wednesday, Biden vowed that if elected, “I would call all the governors to the White House” to make the case on the necessity for implementing mask mandates.
Asked if he’d use an executive order to enforce the wearing of masks if some governors refuse his request, Biden said “the question is whether I have the legal authority as president to sign an executive order. We think we do, but can’t guarantee you that yet.”
"Our legal team thinks I can do that based upon the degree to which there's a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country, and if we don't do it, what happens," Biden explained, regarding his ability to federally act if some states decline to take action.
Biden then emphasized that if he did have the legal authority to sign an executive order on masks, “I would.”
The former vice president brought up a national mask mandate in a local interview in Pittsburgh in June. And he formally called for a national mask mandate during a campaign event with running mate Sen. Kamala Harris on Aug. 13, just days before the start of the Democratic National Convention.