White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that it was okay for the president and vice president to travel because they have a private airplane, unlike the average American, and confirmed that the White House is working with the private sector on developing “guidelines” that can be used for vaccine passports.
A reporter asked Psaki about Biden’s position on whether businesses can tell their employees that they can’t come back to work if they have not received a vaccine or if airlines could reject people from getting on a plane if they decided they did not want to get a vaccine.
“Well, we’re going to provide guidance, just as we have, through the CDC. There’s currently an interagency process that is looking at many of the questions around vaccine verification,” Psaki said. “And that issue will touch many agencies as verification is an issue that will potentially touch many sectors of society, as you have certainly alluded to. … We expect — as Andy Slavitt, I think, alluded to — that a determination or development of a vaccine passport, or whatever you want to call it, will be driven by the private sector.”
“Ours will more be focused on guidelines that can be used as a basis,” she added. “And there are a couple key principles that we are working from. One is that there will be no centralized, universal federal vaccinations database and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential. Second, we want to encourage an open marketplace with a variety of private sector companies and nonprofit coalitions developing solutions. And third, we want to drive the market toward meeting public interest goals.”
Another reporter asked Psaki about an issue that was raised at the CDC-White House briefing earlier in the day where officials urged Americans to take steps to prevent a fourth surge, including eliminating nonessential travel from their plans.
“Is the warning against nonessential travel something that the White House is taking into consideration with regard to upcoming travel by the President and Vice President, both for business and for personal reasons?” the reporter asked.
“Well, I would say the President travels, as does the Vice President, on a private plane,” Psaki said. “That is the purview of every President and Vice President throughout American history. That is, of course, different than traveling on a commercial flight and going to mass events. As you know, we don’t — the President is not hosting rallies, nor is the Vice President. We take the role of sending — being models quite seriously. But I think most Americans would recognize the difference.”
Jen Psaki just said it's fine for Joe Biden to travel while telling the rest of us not to due to COVID-19 because he has a "private plane." pic.twitter.com/TS4ThO3v3S
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 29, 2021
Later on in the briefing a reporter asked Psaki if the CDC travel guidance does not apply if people are traveling on private planes.
“I think the President — he was asking me specifically about the President’s travel and the Vice President’s travel. And the specifics of the guidelines — you can certainly ask the CDC for further clarification,” Psaki said. “But what I’m conveying is that the President — and as any President does — travels on Air Force One, whether he is traveling to visit a community in this country or whether he is traveling to go to his home state of Delaware. And I think most people recognize that as being a difference.”