More than 20 House Republicans pushed back Friday against what they called President Joe Biden’s unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Rep. Kevin Hern, R.Okla., led 22 GOP lawmakers who told reporters that they were unhappy with two vaccine mandates that were officially announced Thursday by the Biden Administration.
Hern and other House Republicans denounced the mandates as a step towards a wider socialist agenda.
“Right now, we’ve got a president who is imposing vaccine mandates on private businesses across America, telling job creators and business owners that the government knows better than they do for who to hire and how to manage their companies,” Hern said.
“When the government is telling you how to run your business and your employees,” he said, “I’d call that control of your means of production: a clear and dangerous step into socialist governance.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has one mandate. It requires employers with 100 employees or more to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated before January 4. Unvaccinated workers must submit weekly test results to show they are positive for COVID-19.
The other is for health care workers who work in facilities that are part of Medicare and Medicaid programs. They must be fully vaccinated by January 4, with no option to receive weekly test results.
In September, the president issued vaccine mandates to federal government workers and contractors.
Russell Vought was the director of President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget.
Vought, now president of the Center for Renewing America (a new conservative group), agreed that such mandates were unconstitutional and said that they already encourage essential employees to leave in large numbers.
“Health care workers [are] walking off the job, firefighters are walking off the job, because they will not submit to something that they cannot in good conscience do,” Vought said.
Andy Barr, a Republican from Kentucky, expressed concern about the impact of the mandates on small businesses.
“Let’s have a little bit of humanitarian concern for the millions of people who will lose their jobs and the businesses that will literally lose their multigenerational livelihoods because of this overreach,” Barr said.
Rep. Lisa McClain (Republican from Michigan) argued that the individual decides whether or not to get vaccinated.
“I think you all know better what should go into your body and have that conversation with your health care provider, as opposed to the president coming down and saying, ‘I’m mandating this,’” McClain said.
In addition to concerns about the violation of civil liberties, the House Republicans highlighted the toll that the vaccine mandates would take on people’s health and safety.
“As you push people out, you kick them out of their jobs, what happens?” asked Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., who is a urologist. “They lose health insurance, they don’t go to the doctor, they get sicker, they delay care, and they possibly can’t get into the hospital and [then] die.”
“So what you’re going to have now, please mark my words, we are going to induce poverty because of this,” Murphy added.
Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, summarized the views of the gathered House members by comparing the current mandates to the tyranny suffered by the 13 colonies before and during the American Revolution.
“This situation reminds me of those hallowed words by Thomas Jefferson when we declared our independence,” Arrington said. “When there’s a train of abuses and usurpations, when there’s this despotism and tyranny of the central government … lording it over the people, it’s the duty and the right of the people to throw it off.”
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