President Biden on Thursday laid out a plan to boost vaccination numbers that includes vaccine mandates for all federal contractors, healthcare workers and businesses with more than 100 employees — who face thousands in fines if they don’t comply.
In his most forceful move yet, President Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal COVID vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans — including private sector employees, healthcare workers and federal contractors — threatening thousands in fines for businesses that do not comply.
In his speech, Biden made no exception for the millions of Americans with natural immunity, and did not mention exemptions for those with medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs — as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in a Wednesday press briefing had suggested would be the case.
"Biden’s efforts to coerce federal workers + those who have elected to remain unvaccinated is clearly in violation of Nuremberg Code, which has been incorporated into U.S. federal and state law. This is a sad day for ethics + rule of law.” — Mary Holland
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”
According to the Associated Press (AP), Biden’s latest move is driven at least in part by self-interest, as he tries to defend his own job performance on the issue most important to voters.
The resurgence of the virus has sent Biden’s poll numbers to the lowest point yet of his presidency, AP reported. An AP-NORC poll conducted in August found 54% of Americans approved of Biden’s stewardship of the pandemic, down from 66% the month before, driven by a drop in support among Republicans and political independents.
‘Most dramatic steps to date’ could spur legal challenges
Biden announced the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees that together employ more than 80 million workers to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to introduce the vaccine requirement. Companies that fail to comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation, Biden said.
Biden noted many large companies already require vaccinations. “The bottom line — we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers,” he said.
The expansive rules also mandate that roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid get fully vaccinated, and require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out, AP reported.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will separately require vaccinations in Head Start Programs, as well as schools run by the U.S. Department of Defense and Bureau of Indian Education, affecting about 300,000 employees.
Although Psaki said Wednesday Biden’s order for executive branch workers and contractors includes exceptions for workers seeking religious or medical exemptions from vaccination, federal workers who don’t comply will be referred to their agencies’ human resources departments for counseling and discipline, to include potential termination.
As part of the plan, Biden also called on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry, and required employers to give their employees paid time off to get vaccinated.
In addition to vaccination mandates, Biden plans to double federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or to maintain face covering requirements on federal property, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
The new rules amount to the most dramatic steps to date to get more Americans vaccinated. Once cautious of vaccine mandates, the Biden administration is now wholly embracing them, CNN reported.
Administration officials acknowledged the requirement for large employers could be challenged in court. But they said their hope was that federal rules would provide legal cover for businesses that want to require vaccines for employees.
Critics react to government overreach and vaccine mandates
“Anthony Fauci’s vaccine-centric policies have given America more COVID deaths and cases than any other nation,” Kennedy said. “With 4.2% of the global population, America has suffered 14.5% of all COVID deaths.”
Kennedy said Biden’s admonition that we must “trust the expert” has become a substitute for scientific literacy and common sense and a gateway to tyranny.
“His move to force universal obedience with an unwanted, ineffective and potentially dangerous medical intervention is anti science, anti-democratic and anti American,” Kennedy said.
“Americans don’t respond well to coercion. The White House crusade to silence debate and censor critics of this disastrous policy has further transformed bad policy into an attack on our fundamental values. It is therefore bound to further divide a dangerously polarized nation.”
Abbott, who has resisted making vaccinations mandatory in any form in Texas, dubbed Biden’s move a “power grab,” and said Texas is already working to halt it.
Shortly after the announcement, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson tweeted a statement that read, “this heavy-handed action by the federal government is unwelcome in our state and has potentially dangerous consequences for working families.”
The Biden Administration’s recent announcement seeking to dictate personal freedom and private business decisions is an insult to our American principles of individual liberty and free enterprise.
This heavy-handed action by the federal government is unwelcome in our state and has potentially dangerous consequences for working families.
In another tweet, Parson said his administration “will always fight back against federal power grabs and government overreach that threatens to limit our freedoms.”
Missouri Attorney General and Republican Senate candidate Eric Schmitt called the mandate an overreach and said it “will not stand in Missouri.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, vowed to “push back” against Biden.
“This is exactly the kind of big government overreach we have tried so hard to prevent in Arizona — now the Biden-Harris administration is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way,” Ducey wrote in a tweet. “This will never stand up in court.”
“This dictatorial approach is wrong, un-American and will do far more harm than good,” Ducey added in another tweet. “How many workers will be displaced? How many kids kept out of classrooms? How many businesses fined? The vaccine is and should be a choice. We must and will push back.”