A segment of the Republican Party base is energized by the growing fight over federal government overreach. However, many large employers have made it clear that they will require workers to get the shot.
This dustup could end up in court, as nearly half the states are represented by GOP attorneys general. They have pledged to sue after the rule is revealed.
Although the courts have always upheld vaccine mandates and the Constitution gives the federal government an upper hand over the states it is unclear what the final outcome will be.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday that prohibited private companies or any other entity from requiring vaccines. Greg Abbott issued an executive directive preventing private companies and any other entity from requiring vaccinations. This was the direct challenge to Biden’s announcement last month that private companies with over 100 employees would need to have their workers vaccinated and tested for coronavirus every week.
Abbott stated in his order that “no entity in Texas can force any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.”
Officials from the White House dismissed Abbott’s order and said that the question of whether state law can supersede federal was settled during the Civil War 160 years ago. They stated that the Biden administration would push through the opposition to put into practice the president’s mandates package, which could potentially affect as many as 100 million Americans.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, accused the opposition of putting safety ahead of politics, pointing out the nation’s COVID-19 death total of over 700,000.
“It’s quite clear that when you make a decision that is against all public data and information, it’s not based upon what’s in the best interests of the people that you’re governing. She said that it might be in your best interests.
Many large Texas companies have already implemented their vaccine mandates. Two Texas-based airlines Southwest and American indicated Tuesday that they would follow the Biden administration’s order. Federal action overrides any state law or mandate.
Arkansas lawmakers have approved a measure granting exemptions from the vaccine-mandate. Although the GOP governor has not yet indicated whether he will sign it or not, it has raised concerns that businesses may be forced to decide whether to violate federal or state law.
Randy Zook, president of Arkansas Chamber of Commerce said that “We are tying Arkansas businesses’ hands in order to prevent them from making their own decisions about how to keep their employees safe.” Walmart and Tyson Foods are two of the largest Arkansas companies. They require that all employees be vaccinated.
In states such as South Dakota, Kansas, and Wyoming, Republican governors have called for special legislative sessions to combat vaccine mandates. Kristi Noem has so far refused to consider any bill that would allow people to opt out.
Scott Odenbach, a Republican state representative, said that he hears from people nearly daily who fear losing their jobs and are living in fear. Odenbach has clashed on this issue with Noem. They shouldn’t be forced to choose between their family’s well-being and their medical freedom.
A $500 million incentive agreement to attract a Ford Motor Co. project in Tennessee could be canceled if the GOP governor. The powerful House speaker, Bill Lee, told a local radio station that he won’t consider any further relaxations in COVID-19 restrictions.
Indiana’s Republican Governor. Eric Holcomb also resists a push by his party to ban mandates for workplace vaccinations.
Bills are also being introduced and drafted in other states, such as swing states like Ohio or New Hampshire. After his predecessor’s death from COVID-19, the Republican sponsor of the bill was elected House Speaker.
Speaker Shermpackard stated last month that “government mandates are not the way to success in vaccination rates” and added, “We have made it very clear,”
Utah lawmakers have yet to take action on the issue, but over 600 people packed a legislative hearing hall last week.
Rob Moore, the CEO of Big-D Construction in Salt Lake City, stated that he supports vaccines, but had questions about mandate rollout. There is a shortage of workers on his job sites. He said that employee surveys have shown that almost 20% of his workers do not want to get immunized. Therefore, they will need to be tested every week.
“That is weighing on our minds right now. I don’t know if that was the federal government’s thought process. He said that the cost would be huge.
Other sectors have had no vaccine requirements. The NBA’s Jazz in Utah is requiring all employees to get vaccinated. Fans are also required to present proof of vaccinations or have a negative COVID-19 testing. Frank Zang, a Jazz spokesperson, stated that only a few tickets have been refunded so far. The season opener will be sold out by next Wednesday.
He said, “I believe there’s an understanding of what’s at stake in terms of having safe environments for people to enjoy concerts and sports again.”
Although the conservative legislative push might not succeed in blocking mandates, it could be a stumblingblock and another factor driving the GOP further right.
For example, Abbott’s order comes at a time when he is being criticized by candidates from the right regarding COVID-19 policies. As he is running in a competitive Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, Arizona’s attorney general filed an earlier lawsuit.
Mike Meckler, a Texas conservative activist who founded the tea party 10 years ago, stated that the mandate issue is igniting younger people. He summarized the mood among activists by saying, “If you don’t support us, then you are with the fascists.”
Only 56% of Americans are fully vaccinated. This is far below the recommended level of vaccination experts believe is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
More than 200 million Americans have received COVID-19 vaccines. Serious side effects have been extremely rare. Experts believe that the risk of the vaccine is much lower than the danger presented by COVID-19.
A recent poll shows around half of Americans support requiring large-company workers to be vaccinated and tested every week. According to a survey conducted by The Associated Press, NORC-Center for Public Affairs Research, 6 out 10 Republicans opposed the mandate for employees.
According to Dorit Rubinstein, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, more than 100 state legislatures had passed bills that sought to limit the number of vaccine mandates in the past year even before Biden announced it. While most of these failed, several states did set limits, some involving schools or state agencies.
Montana is the only state that has passed a law prohibiting private employers from prescribing vaccines. Business owners can be punished with a $500 fine and/or imprisonment. The rule is currently facing two court challenges from the Montana Medical Association as well as a law firm. They claim that the rule impairs businesses’ ability to create a safe work environment.
Much will depend on how the nationwide rule is written as judges weigh these cases. It will be issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This agency has wide power to regulate workplaces. It will be created as a temporary emergency rule.
Reiss stated that they would need to frame the case in a way that makes it workplace-related, and not just an attempt at raising vaccination rates in the United States. “I believe the mandate’s main benefit will be that it covers companies who already wish to do this.”