Anti-mandate governors gear up for a fight with Biden after he demands millions of Americans get jab
The president announced a string of tough new rules to combat the ongoing spread of the virus as the Delta variant continues to impact the country.
Mr Biden announced that all federal employees need to be vaccinated, as well as employees of all contractors who do business with the federal government, with no option of regular testing to opt out.
The Labor Department will also issue an emergency rule to require all private employers with 100 or more workers to mandate vaccines or weekly testing.
The new plan ramps up the conflict between the White House and GOP governors, who have opposed mask and vaccine mandates in their home states.
Some of them immediately promised legal challenges to the new rules.
Texas governor Greg Abbott, who just passed the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, claimed that the new rules were an assault on an individual’s “right to choose”.
“Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I issued an executive order protecting Texans’ right to choose whether they get the Covid vaccine & added it to the special session agenda. Texas is already working to halt this power grab.”
“I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration,” tweeted Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp.
Arizona governor Doug Ducey branded Mr Biden’s moves as “egregious big government overreach” and questioned the need for the requirements.
“The Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective tools to prevent the disease, but getting the vaccine is and should be a choice,” Mr Ducey said in a statement.
“These mandates are outrageous. They will never stand up in court. We must and will push back.”
South Dakota’s governor Kristi Noem tweeted that her office would pursue legal action against the White House.
“My legal team is standing by ready to file our lawsuit the minute [Joe Biden] files his unconstitutional rule. This gross example of federal intrusion will not stand,” she tweeted.
Mr Biden said in a Thursday afternoon address that almost 80 million Americans had still not got vaccinated, and that the patience of the rest of the country was “wearing thin”.
The US has seen more than 40.6 million Covid-19 cases during the pandemic, with more than 654,000 deaths.