Becerra’s remarks earlier Thursday came in response to Republican criticism President Joe Biden received this week for his administration’s latest push to persuade hesitant Americans to get vaccinated.
In a speech to the White House on Tuesday, Biden provided an update on the state of the U.S. vaccination program and ongoing efforts to reach areas of the country where vaccine skepticism is still high.
“Now we have to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and often, door to door – literally knocking on doors – to get help for the remaining people protected from the virus,” Biden said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also detailed elements of the administration’s vaccination campaign during her briefing on Tuesday, including “targeted outreach, community by community, door-to-door to vaccinate the remaining Americans ”.
The door-to-door references drew swift rebuke from Republicans in Congress, who branded the comments as potential violations of American civil liberties.
“How about not knocking on my door,” Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted Tuesday. “You are not my parents. You are the government. Make the vaccine available and let people choose. Why is this concept so difficult for the left?
Representative Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) also tweeted: “This is NONE of the [government’s] to find out who has and has not been vaccinated.
But Becerra dismissed those complaints earlier Thursday. “Perhaps we should point out that the federal government has spent trillions of dollars trying to keep Americans alive during this pandemic,” he said. told CNN in an interview.
“So it’s absolutely the government’s business,” Becerra said. “It’s taxpayers’ business if we are to continue spending money to try to prevent people from contracting Covid and to help reopen the economy. “
The secretary also noted that “knocking on a door has never been against the law” and that Americans “do not have to answer. But we hope you will.
The back-and-forth over the administration’s new strategy comes as 160 million Americans are set to be fully immunized by the end of this week, according to the president’s latest figures.
But the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is more easily transmitted, accounted for more than half of Covid-19 cases in the United States last month and continues to pose a threat to unvaccinated people across the country.
Of the Americans who died from the coronavirus last month, more than 99% have not been vaccinated, according to federal health officials.