Muriel Bowser, D.C. Mayor, is the latest left-leaning mayor to establish a proof of vaccination mandate. Starting on Saturday, anyone 12 or older who wants to eat at a restaurant, go to a concert, or see a movie in the nation’s capital will have to present proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
Ralph Norman (Republican from South Carolina) is one 19 lawmakers who signed a petition asking Bowser not to reverse her decision. Norman thinks Bowser’s mandate will have adverse consequences for people living in or visiting the District of Columbia.
“It’s a draconian overreach of government,” Norman says, adding: “This has been a nightmare for so many of the people that are trying to put food on the table, and they’re getting hit with cost increase after cost increase. There is a limit.”
Norman joins the show to discuss Congress’ efforts to prevent the mandate from taking effect—and the consequences for the city’s businesses and residents if it does.
These stories are also covered by us:
- According to the Department of Labor the December inflation rate was at its highest point in 39 years.
- California’s new study has shown that the COVID-19 omicron strain is less severe than the previous strains.
- A D.C. administrative agency announces an approach that could be used as a template for government lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to vaccinations.
Listen to the podcast or read the lightly edited transcript below:
Doug Blair: Our guest today is Congressman Ralph Norman who represents South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. Welcome to the show, Congressman.
Rep. Ralph NormanDoug, I am glad to be of service to you.
Blair: Excellent. I wish we could talk more about a better topic, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowlser recently announced that you will be unable to enter most private businesses, such as restaurants, bars, and movie theatres, starting January 15th without proof of vaccination.
Congressman, you along with 18 other members sent a letter asking D.C. Mayor Bowser to cancel this vaccine mandate. Why would you do such a thing?
Norman: Well, it’s a draconian overreach of government. Mayor Bowser represents a budget of $17.2 billion she has on the taxpayers that support that huge of a budget, paid for by businesses—30% are black-owned businesses, 57% have been shut down.
This coronavirus has been going on for two years now, and the cities that have been shut down and have required a vaccination card—San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia—it hadn’t worked, it hadn’t reduced the spread.
The fact that she would do this is draconian, and it’s time for us to say “no.” And it’s time for the businesses to use this as an opportunity to say, “Look, since this started, most revenues have been down 57%.” And now’s the time for the businesses to say “no.” And the fact that she’s doing this ought to give people a real reason, one, to voice their opinion and, two, to vote her out of office if she doesn’t change her ways.
Blair: The District of Columbia, which is the capital of America, is unique amongst federal territories. This means that it has some of its responsibilities abrogated. Does the U.S. Congress have the power to prevent this mandate from being fulfilled?
Norman: It’s been so quick. Yes, we do, but we’ve got to agree to get together and do this. We just can’t keep writing letters, which we’ve had no response.
Think of all the people who won’t be able visit the capital. They hadn’t been able to do it since the coronavirus began two years ago. What are you going to eat now that she is doing this? You are going to take your family on a trip to Virginia?
This is something Congress should be involved in. We’re trying to figure out what to do. First, let us all know that we are here to help. And there’ll be more letters coming. But judging from the lack of response that we’ve received from her, I doubt we’ll get any.
Blair: Do you feel as if there’s any motivation in Congress to get something like this done, to prevent this vaccine mandate from taking place?
Norman:It is possible to have mixed opinions about it. Some people are strong, “ought to be mandated.” Not that many Republicans. Democrats are pretty united on everybody getting vaccinated, except when they leave their particular state that’s been shut down and go to Florida, as [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez]Others have done it, and they went without a mask.
But I’ve always been of the mindset that this is a personal choice. If you’ve got a medical reason you don’t want to get a vaccination, you shouldn’t have to do it. If you’ve got a religious reason that you don’t want to receive the vaccination.
Mayor Bowser’s requirement that children as young as 12 years old have the vaccine and show the card to prove it is overreaching government and a dictatorial attitude. It has a huge impact on many people. It affects the city, and it affects the business. And it’s not like the businesses are not already struggling.
Blair: Let me now focus on the business side of things. Do you think the business consequences of the vaccine mandate are similar to what you saw with lockdowns? Or could it be worse?
Norman: It’s going to be worse, because it’s compounded now. Go to any grocery store. You talk about the supply chain shortage, the ships that are at sea that can’t get unloaded for whatever reason. You see the inflation that’s already taking place. Look at what you’re paying for gasoline. Look at what you’re paying for groceries, if you can get them.
And it’s only going to get worse, because if you notice, this administration is not taking ownership in anything. If it’s not being blamed on [former President Donald] Trump, he’s talking about other issues.
Yesterday, as an example, he was talking about this voter reform, HR 1, that they’re trying to pass, which federalizes our elections and takes away voter ID. And he’s not talking about the supply chain.
But when you combine the cost of goods, the fact now that you can’t get them, the fact now that you’re paying 60% more in gas prices, too—by the way, OPEC, who is made up of 15 countries that don’t exactly like us, like Venezuela, Iraq, and Iran, cut off all of our natural supplies—it’s going to be far greater impact, because not only the businesses are not going to have the customers to come and buy their product, but there’s no relief in sight.
The Democrats want COVID to continue to be relevant for political reasons. And it’s up to people like us and other conservatives to say, “We’re not going to do that,” and to try to find a solution, to just say, “We’re not doing it.”
We’ve got decisions to make here in Washington as far as what we’re going to do. Capitol Hill Club is the place where we go to business. If you don’t want to show your vaccination, whether you have one or not, to require that, we’re going to have to have a choice to make, and everybody’s going to have to make their own particular decision.
Blair: Have any District business or restaurant owners spoken with you about how the vaccine mandate would impact their business?
Norman: Yeah, and it’s mixed. They don’t want to be shut down. What little income they’ve had over the past two years, some have survived because they’ve either cut back staff, if you’re a restaurant, they catered food out and you could get it in. It was catered in at my breakfast this morning. But they don’t want to be shut down and have to go through the permitting process of opening. So what can you do?
And so, it’s unfair. It’s really unfair for the taxpayers for government to mandate this when it’s unconstitutional. I hope the courts will strike it down and we get some relief. But this administration is increasing its stance. They know it’s unpopular in the polls, and they saw what happened in Virginia. They witnessed what happened in New Jersey. They just want to be able to continue living their lives. And for government to say “no,” the government works for us, we don’t work for government. Mayor Bowser is supposed to work for taxpayers.
But we got to get back to basics with it and we’ve got to let our voices be heard. If the businesses in Washington, D.C., and other states, cities and states all around this country, don’t voice their opinion, then it’s going to be just what happened in your home state, in Portland, Oregon, where you have a complete loss of businesses and they leave.
Go to Washington, DC. It’s shut down for the most part. Who’s going to replace that revenue? The $17.4 billion that Mayor Bowser has in her budget, who’s going to pay that? She can raise taxes, which she already has done on those making $250 and greater, but you can only tax the taxpayers so much, and they leave—the very reason California is losing 400,000 people, the very reason New York city is losing a seat and losing 410,000 people.
It is a boon for a state like South Carolina. We’ve got low taxes, we’ve got good government. We’ve stayed open, and we’ve left it up to the businesses to decide what’s best for them, which is as it should be.
Blair: The District of Columbia should follow the South Carolina model. Businesses can make their own decisions, but the doors must remain open.
Norman:They should be calling every day a meeting with Mayor Bowser, the council, and getting a group of concerned citizens. This is their livelihood. It’s not like they’ve been punished enough already. This has been a nightmare for so many of the people that are trying to put food on the table, and they’re getting hit with cost increase after cost increase. There is a limit.
And I’m just hoping the people, we the people, will say, “Enough is enough. We’re going to take our government back and we’re going to get involved.” And that means putting your name on the line and running for office, which I’m encouraging people to do who are like-minded. The federal government was created by the states, not vice versa. The federal government didn’t create states. We have to get back to basics.
Blair: I am following up on something that you discussed earlier. D.C. is very popular for tourists to visit with their families, including their children. You write in the letter that Mayor Bowser has instituted “another draconian measure against children, a group that has unfairly suffered at the hands of liberal educators and the institutions they serve throughout this pandemic.” Can you discuss maybe how this vaccine mandate might negatively impact children?
Norman: Well, first of all, what’s been happening is the teachers unions have dictated that schools shut down. Now, how that happened I don’t fully understand. The ramifications of that are a lot of groups want to come to Washington, D.C., if they’re not in school. And it’s going to completely shut that down, particularly 12 and up. So you’re going to stop that and stop we the people [from]Seeing their capital.
I’ve got a staffer who it’s the first time she’s visited. It’s fabulous to come up here. Even though I am young, I vote and take them to the floor. I think it’s 14 and under. And it’s such a great experience. I haven’t done that since the end of 2019.
I had a family in, and we always take pictures, and had a, I think she was 13 years old, we’re doing a picture and her shoulders were shaking. I asked her dad, I said, “Explain what’s wrong. Is she nervous?” He said, “No, she’s had anxieties.” She hadn’t been in school. She hadn’t had the social interaction in school.
And so it’s not only dollars and cents, visiting the capital, excursions. Children are the ones who suffer the most. That’s unfair. And for government to aid and abet that, there’s no place for it.
Blair: Do you see these vaccine mandates having long-term consequences on children’s mental health?
Norman: Oh, yeah. I think it’s going to be up to the parents to try to alleviate that. I tell you, midterms couldn’t come quick enough. These people cannot be trusted with power. They cannot be trusted with the reins of power. They’ve weaponized the COVID pandemic. They used this to punish those who pay their salaries. And that’s the thing I hate about it the most.
And hopefully, though, the ray of sunshine is, as has happened in Virginia, I think this year we’ll put people in office that will make commonsense decisions to let each state decide what they want to do and advocate for that. Because if we don’t, we lose our country. And that’s such a sad thing.
Blair: One of the other things you write in your letter is, “Like the Democrat lockdowns of 2020, the latest left-wing vaccine passport fad will not prevent the virus from spreading.” Some of this language, obviously, is targeting directly some of the left-leaning mayors of these large cities. You mentioned that my hometown of Portland in Oregon has had very strict restrictions. Have you heard anything back from Mayor Bowser’s office regarding this letter and maybe the steps they’re going to take?
Norman: I have not. And it’s like so many of this administration, not only do they avoid the issues publicly, they don’t answer any typed questions.
We’ve written [Attorney General]Merrick Garland spoke out about the detention of the January 6th prisoners, without a trial. We held a conference about the videotape and released it. That’s the public’s right to know.
But I doubt Mayor Bowser’s going to respond. I hope she does. But regardless, the people affected the most ought to be on her doorstep saying, “Enough is enough. When’s it going to end?” and demand some answers for us. Again, she works for taxpayers. It’s up to Congress to use whatever powers we can to rein her in. And I hope we’ll do that.
Blair: Now, following up on that, I’m curious, we’ve been talking a little bit about some of these government officials who seem to have a problem with accountability and transparency. Why do you think Mayor Bowser will not respond specifically to your comments? Why won’t she respond to your questions?
Norman: I think she’s being directed, to be honest with you. The same question I have, why won’t the [Food and Drug Administration] give us the documents … when the vaccines were approved in 108 days, why won’t they give us that information? The proprietary information should be kept out of public view, but the public should have more confidence in the vaccines they receive. We haven’t heard from them.
They were forced to answer by the court. The court gave them seventy-six years to release this information. I think we’ve got a thing called email. I believe we can scan documents into. I don’t think it takes 76 years to get documents.
But that’s the absurdity of it. And it’s the arrogance of power to not respond to a letter from elected officials. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, you respond and support your position. That hasn’t happened.
… It’s reached a boiling point, to be honest with you, with conservatives in Congress. Democrats love this because most of them have never worked in the private sector. [President] Joe Biden spent, what, 50 years in the political realm where he’s gotten a paycheck every month? A lot of businesses can’t say that. As I mentioned, the income of most businesses is down 57%. And it’s got a ripple effect. When you combine all of that, there’s a breaking point.
I think we’re at that point with the businesses, with the inflation, with the lack of getting goods. If we don’t change it, then we’ll have to leave—which is good for South Carolina because we welcome the businesses. It’s good for North Carolina, Georgia, the Southern states. It’s not so good for the ones that are leaving, but hopefully they’ll leave their politics where they came from.
Many people who come to our state from elsewhere forget why they left and want to bring liberal policies to the state. But no, it’s time for we the people to stand up.
Blair: Now, to play devil’s advocate, some people might argue that these vaccine mandates will make people feel safer, that you’re sitting in a restaurant, you can trust the person next to you has been vaccinated. And if you’re somebody that has concerns about maybe sitting next to somebody who isn’t vaccinated, your fears are allayed. What would you tell someone who makes that argument?
Norman: Very good question. If somebody in a restaurant, and I’ve had them in elevators and in restaurants, says, “Why don’t you put your mask on?” I said, “Well, I don’t believe in masks. [Dr. Anthony] Fauci has been all over the board on whether they’re effective or not. You can either get off or sit beside me. It’s your choice.” That’s what’s it, the American dream was built on choice and freedom, and that’s what we’re missing.
I’ve seen people running outside in masks. If this makes them feel better they can take a mask off. Put six masks on. I went to a game of basketball where my grandson was participating. They had masks but they were taken off. It’s just for the appearance of it. Now, somebody tell me, explain to me how that works, where the mask’s down here, the jaw doesn’t breathe, your mouth and your nose does.
If they feel better, they can wear a mask. And that’s the individual choice that people can make. It’s not for government to make.
Blair: We have briefly discussed the implications of vaccine mandates in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Boston. [Los Angeles]All countries have implemented some form of a vaccine mandate. Do we see any after-effects of these vaccine mandates?
Norman:I have not heard of any adverse effects. And as a physician told me, wearing a mask, whether it’s a R95 mask or the simple mask, is like keeping mosquitoes out with a barbwire fence. It doesn’t work. But again, that’s a personal choice. If people are willing to use it they can knock themselves out.
Blair: As you mentioned, there was an interesting dynamic that existed between the idea that you must show your vaccine card in order to get into businesses and IDs for voting IDs. You tweeted recently, “Mandating people to show a vaccination card to eat, but not an ID to vote, shows how out of touch the Democrats really are.” Would you be able to elaborate on that maybe a bit more?
Norman: Sure. As this administration claims, HR 1, or the voter rights, is all about giving people a right to vote. Well, if you drill down on that and bring up the one question, “Do you believe in photo voter ID to vote?”—and the latest round of what this bill will do will gut our election system. Total control by the federal government, illegal aliens vote, same-day voter registration, felons vote, it’s crazy.
Now, if you go off into the vaccine mandate again, that’s a personal choice. Doug, I know people from all walks of the country who have had the virus and have now received their natural immunities. It had an impact on them, especially the young. Why should they be forced to get the vaccine? And it’s such hypocrisy.
Take a look at the 1.8 Million [illegal immigrants] that are coming across this border … where’s the mandate for them? When I went to McAllen, Texas, and I’ve been twice, they’re not getting vaccinated. They’re not showing any photo ID to get on an airplane. It took up 100 seats out of 120, and all they had was a cardboard sign saying, “I can’t speak English.”
This administration is sending them all over the country, which makes it unfair for the police department. But that’s who the Democrats want to vote. And they want to be able to do it like we’ve never seen before.
If this voter ID, if the latest round of legislation that they’re pushing to end the filibuster on passes, we lose our country. We’ll be like a Venezuela, Cuba, China.
Blair: Let’s talk about that filibuster a little bit more. There’s been some statements from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about the future of the filibuster. In a recent speech, President Joe Biden criticized the filibuster. How does this make you feel about the future filibuster?
Norman: Well, they’re hypocrites. How can you have one position when you were not in power, and now … you want to weaponize the voting system and take away our rights and do away with it? What’s changed? What’s changed is their thirst for power trumps everything, and that’s what they are trying to get.
And I will tell you, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will stand firm, as they did on the “Build Back Broke.” They stood tall on that. They shouldn’t have passed that. It’s easy to spend taxpayers’ money. What about offsets. What about the $29 trillion and counting that we’re already in debt for? That’s not fair to our children or grandchildren. It’s not fair to young people like you. But it’s something we’ve got to address, and whether we do it or not, it’s up to people like us to do it. I believe we will.
Blair: Continuing on with that topic of maybe the government’s in places it shouldn’t be, do you see a risk of overreaching government power when issues like vaccine mandates come up?
Norman: It’s already here. It’s not just in vaccine mandates. Take a look at all the regulations this government has created. Ask anybody that’s trying to, particularly Washington, D.C., get a building permit, what they have to go through. You can see how they use government to combat the very people who are paying their salaries. I also mentioned that the FDA has not released the documents. It’s ludicrous.
But it’s already there, and we’ve got to voice our opinions to the chamber of commerces, to the conservative groups. Heritage Foundation has done a great job of recruiting common-sense conservatives. We’re right, they’re wrong. It’s all about controlling power with them. But now it’s time to do this systematically. And we’ve got to take it issue by issue with this voter fraud that they’re trying to perpetrate on people. We have to make it clear, but we also need to list what it is. It’s not voter suppression, it’s just the right to vote is what’s at stake here.
Blair: One final question for you, Congressman. As a member of a legislative body, as the voice of the people. How should Congress respond to the omicron virus and coronavirus?
Norman:One, I think we should get the therapeutics. We’ve been in it long enough now that we ought to have therapeutics to cure it. Instead of suppressing the ivermectin cure and hydroxychloroquine treatment for a lot more people, we should have an honest discussion about this and not suppress it.
Big Pharma may not like it. Aspirin is cheap, ivermectin, and hydroxychloroquine are all expensive. But if it works on the patient, it saves a life, and if you get it early—that’s why we’ve got to have the discussion. That’s what’s being shut down by government, and in particularly this administration. They’re shutting down any discussion.
I was one of those who worked with the front-line doctors. You had to have a M.D. She was talking about hydroxychloroquine, and its effects on her patients. That’s all she was talking about, and we got banned. And I think, again, we got to rise up and say, “Enough is enough.” And if your physician says this could be effective, then why not use it?
So, we’ve got so many things we’ve got to address, but it’s not going to happen unless we get our voice back.
The good news is that I believe we are, and I believe people are getting involved. Young people like yourself and others are excited. You’ve seen the downside of what a broken government does in your home state. And I’m seeing other people are seeing it. And unfortunately, we’re seeing it at the nation’s capital. And now it’s time we can do something about it. The conservatives will.
Blair: Excellent. Congressman Ralph Norman, who represents South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District. Congressman, I truly appreciate your time.
Norman: We are grateful.
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