Psaki mocked Cruz for his claim that Southwest Airlines delays were due to vaccine mandates.
She was asked at Tuesday’s press briefing, “What’s the White House response to those who say vaccine mandates have reduced the workforce and contributed to this problem?”
“Well I know world-renowned business, travel and health expert Sen. Ted Cruz has made that point,” the press secretary responded. “But I wouldn’t say that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders who have implemented these mandates.”
Noting the “hubbub” about Southwest Airlines, Psaki later added, “We now know that some of those claims were absolutely false, and actually the issues were completely unrelated to vaccine mandates.”
See her remarks below:
.@PressSec on people who say vaccine mandates have reduced the workforce: "I know world-renowned business, travel, and health expert Senator Ted Cruz has made that point, but I wouldn't say that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders…by health experts…” pic.twitter.com/RbLq053T5M
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 12, 2021
Joe Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate at work!
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 10, 2021
Cruz fired back at Psaki for her remarks mentioning him.
“So now Biden [White House] is launching snarky insults from the [White House] press room,” Cruz tweeted.
He added, “Ok, Jen, I just spoke with a very credible [and] senior source in aviation who told me the following: a few days ago, there was a ‘sick out’ of air traffic controllers in Jacksonville over vaccine mandates; As a result, out of 33 air traffic controllers ONLY THREE showed up to work; That resulted in cascading flight cancellations.”
The senator questioned Psaki, “True or False, Jen? Or do you just do petty insults [and] ignore actual facts?”
– As a result, out of 33 air traffic controllers ONLY THREE showed up to work;
– That resulted in cascading flight cancellations.
True or False, Jen? Or do you just do petty insults & ignore actual facts?#ThanksJoe
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 12, 2021
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly smacked down the speculation that COVID-19 vaccine mandates caused mass flight cancellations, as IJR reported.
He said on “Good Morning America” Tuesday, “About half of our airplanes touch the state of Florida. Orlando, as an example, had a ground stop for seven hours. So it just put the airline way behind on Friday. So there were no [air traffic control] issues over the weekend. That’s absolutely true. But I think any industry expert knows that it takes several days, if you have that large of an impact on the operations, to get the airplanes where they need to be and then to match the crews up with that.”
Asked about the vaccine mandate speculation and if that caused the cancellations, Kelly said, “There’s just no evidence of that.”
“The vaccine mandate obviously is controversial, and it’s not anything that I wish for our company. This is a government mandate, it’s a presidential order, and we’re doing our best to comply with that according to the deadlines that have been set,” Kelly said.
More than 2,500 flights were cancelled since Saturday, Southwest Airlines said on Monday.
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