In early September, an annoyed and impatient President Biden gave a speech on the state of COVID-19 in which he said Americans were testing his patience by not lining up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. That day, he announced a vaccine mandate on our military, federal employees, federal contractors, all health care workers and everyone who works in a company with 100 or more employees — in other words, most Americans.
People watched in disbelief and wondered, the president can’t just give a speech and tell the whole country what to do, right? Mandates are only in Socialist Europe or Communist China, not here, right? The president can’t just fire people from their careers, force them out of their employer-provided health insurance and put their family into chaos just because he has “lost patience” with them, right?”
The simple answer is no. The president doesn’t run every family and every company in America, and we are standing up to stop him.
Nationwide, over 75% of Americans five years or older have already had the vaccine. The CDC estimates that 92% of Americans 16 years or older have already developed antibodies against COVID-19, from vaccination or from previous infection. Even with that statistic, the president still wants to fire people who do not “fall in line” from their jobs.
We’ve heard from thousands of people in our states who don’t want to take the COVID-19 vaccine for a number of reasons. Millions of people have already recovered from COVID and may have some level of natural immunity. Others have an objection to the vaccine based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Some are being treated for cancers or auto-immune diseases and don’t want to introduce a relatively new vaccine into that treatment. Some have serious adverse reactions to many vaccines. Some have heard about the possible side effects of the vaccine or long-term possible issues and are just wary of taking it right away. Millions of other Americans just don’t like being told what to do. We are a stubborn, self-reliant people; that is part of what has made us the greatest nation in the world.
Our service members also face a serious decision and serious consequences. According to the latest numbers, only about 45.5% of the National Guard and Reserves are vaccinated, and we’ve heard from highly trained specialists with long careers who are considering remaining unvaccinated, even if they are fired. Imagine losing that knowledge and investment into our military. Firing our National Guard members will absolutely affect military readiness and disaster response in every state.
One of the scarier “or else” components to this is that if companies don’t give in to the vaccine mandate, guess what? The Democrats’ new multi-trillion-dollar bill increases OSHA fines for companies that employ 100 or more people tenfold. Democrats are not only trying to fire workers for not getting the vaccine, they’re also trying to shut down companies if they don’t fire their workers.
President Biden is playing a dangerous game of chicken with our families and our economy. He is gambling that he can put enough pressure on people that they’ll cave to his will by taking away their jobs and closing down companies with large fines. Americans are gambling that Biden will blink before they leave their jobs because if they change jobs in mass numbers it will cause even more economic damage and even more high inflation.
We call on our colleagues who believe in freedom from government intrusion into our lives to support our legislation to disapprove of the Department of Labor’s rule when we call it up for a vote in the Senate next week. All 50 Senate Republicans have committed to stopping Biden’s mandate on the private sector through what is called a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. Now, with the addition of Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, we have the votes to overturn Biden’s mandate on private businesses in the Senate. Following the Senate vote, we will send it over to the House for a legislative “Judgement Day” on the mandate.
Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed in nearly every part of the country challenging the vaccine mandate, with the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noting how scathing the Fifth Circuit court was in its decision to halt implementation of the rule last month. The courts are finally joining with us to fight executive overreach.
If your Member of Congress is on the fence about the vaccine mandate, we encourage you to let them know where you stand. Many Americans who support the vaccine personally don’t support firing people from their jobs because they choose not to get the vaccine. Firing frontline workers who risked their lives to serve our nation before the vaccine is a terrible way to say thank you for their service.
Read the tea leaves, President Biden. America’s patience has run out with you trying to act like their dad and telling them what to do. Let Americans choose what is right for their health, their family and their freedom.
James Lankford serves as the junior senator from the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate. Mike Braun is serving as the junior senator from the state of Indiana in the U.S. Senate.