The Republican — who was caught fleeing Texas for the warmer climes of Mexico during a February winter storm which left millions of Texans without power — spent the weekend spreading the false claim that a rash of delays and cancellations of Southwest Airlines flights were the result of the Biden administration’s push to encourage employers to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for employees.
Asked if the White House had a response for “people who say vaccine mandates have reduced the workforce,” Ms Psaki replied: “I know world renowned business travel and health expert Senator Ted Cruz has made that point, but I wouldn’t say that that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders who have implemented these mandates, by health experts who have conveyed the way to get out of the pandemic is to ensure that we’re doing exactly the steps the President has announced and we’re working to implement”.
“I know there was a little hubbub over the course of the last few days about Southwest Airlines, we now know that some of those claims were absolutely false and actually the issues were completely unrelated to vaccine mandates,” she added.
The airline recently announced that its status as a federal contractor means its entire workforce must be vaccinated by 8 December to comply with an executive order which Mr Biden signed on 9 September.
Mr Cruz and other Republicans have falsely attributed Southwest’s troubles to an unsanctioned labour action by the airline’s pilot union, which has sued the carrier to block it from requiring pilots to be vaccinated as a condition of employment.
Yet in a tweet posted on Sunday, Mr Cruz said that the multitude of cancelled flights was “Joe Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate at work”.
Officials with Southwest’s pilot union have denied that their members have engaged in any sort of work action — sanctioned or not — that could have caused the problems.