Joseph R. Biden said Wednesday that, if it is deemed within his scope of power as president, he would sign an executive order mandating masks across the United States as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.
Mr. Biden said his preference would be for governors to adopt mask mandates in their states, but he said that if they are unwilling to do so, his legal team of advisers believes he would have the power to implement a mandate through the powers of the presidency.
“The question is whether I have the legal authority as president to sign an executive order,” Mr. Biden told reporters Wednesday. “We think we do, but I can’t guarantee you that.”
Pressed further on the issue, Mr. Biden said, “If I did [have the power], I would.”
Mr. Biden has distanced himself from President Trump on the issue of masks.
He says Mr. Trump’s reluctance to promote mask-wearing is costing lives, and says he sees the simple move as crucial to shielding Americans from the virus until a vaccine is delivered.
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