The White House is refusing to answer questions about President Joe Biden's praise for a Coast Guard rescue swimmer who faces termination for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
What is the background?
After Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida last week, U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmers traversed the dangerous floodwaters to rescue more than a dozen people.
After the rescues, President Joe Biden personally thanked one of the rescue swimmers, Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Zach Loesch. Despite his valorous service, Loesch is reportedly on track to be discharged from the Coast Guard because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Loesch applied for a religious exception, but he was denied; his appeal of that decision was also denied.
"If I had asked any of the people I saved yesterday if they wanted to come with me even though I am unvaccinated, every single one of them would have said 'yes,'" Loesch told journalist Kristina Wong. "It just sucks that he thanked me yet his vaccine mandate is what's kicking me out."
What did the WH say?
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked whether President Joe Biden will reconsider his administration's vaccine mandate for military members after praising Loesch's heroism.
After saying Biden has the "deepest respect" for the U.S. Coast Guard "heroes," Jean-Pierre refused to answer the question.
Instead, Jean-Pierre suggested the question is beyond her work purview even though it focuses on Biden, who is under her purview as the president's chief spokeswoman.
"I would refer you specifically to the U.S. Coast Guard on this issue, on this individual question," she said. "It's not something that I would comment from here."
"But, you know, there, of course, have been multiple vaccination requirements, as you know, in place for quite some time," she added. "Again, I'm not going to comment from here on an individual case."
10/04/22: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre youtu.be
What about the vaccine mandate?
The Biden administration mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for all service members last August.
But despite vaccine mandates being rolled back across the country, the military has retained it and is enforcing it against otherwise upstanding service members.