Republicans Rail Against Biden’s Sweeping Vaccine Plan, With One Warning Of ‘Full On Revolt’

By Andrew Solender, Forbes Staff

Topline

 Republicans in Congress railed against President Joe Biden’s plans to issue sweeping new orders aimed at getting tens of millions of federal workers and contractors, private sector employees and health care staffers vaccinated, with many casting the move as authoritarian.

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 31: Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, speaks during the House Republicans press conference on the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in the Rayburn Room in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, August 31, 2021. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Key Facts

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) called the orders “insanity” and said they could lead to “full on revolt,” adding, “Honestly what the hell is wrong with Democrats? Leave people the hell alone.”

That was echoed by other conservatives in the House: Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) accused Biden of “abusing the power of the executive branch,” and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the chair of the House GOP conference, called it an “authoritarian power grab.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, vowed to introduce legislation to “blocki this egregious assault on Americans’ freedom,” though any bill would be unlikely to pass in a Congress controlled by Democrats.

Administration officials say the government has the power to enforce the actions, which include mandating shots for federal workers and contractors, withholding federal funds from health care facilities that don’t mandate the shots for staff and fining businesses with 100 or more employees that don’t implement test-or-vaccine mandates.

Jennifer Shinall, a professor of employment law at Vanderbilt University, told Forbes legal challenges against the orders are “likely to fail” given the strong legal precedent for the mandate for federal workers and the power of the federal government to control where its funds go.

Biden earned praise from Democratic lawmakers, with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) tweeting, “I support 1000% President Biden's aggressive new measures,” and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) applauding him for “keeping our communities safe.”

Surprising Fact

Despite near-uniform opposition from Republican lawmakers, polls suggest vaccine mandates like the ones Biden plans to implement are fairly popular. In a Washington Post-ABC poll of 1,006 U.S. adults released Wednesday, 52% of respondents said they support businesses requiring vaccinations for employees working in-person.

Big Number

80 million. That’s how many private sector workers will be impacted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to implement vaccine-or-test mandates, the administration said. Officials said those who don’t comply could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

Crucial Quote

“This would basically just give some more teeth to the pre-existing OSHA guidance that already said employers should be keeping their workplaces safe from COVID outbreaks, so this would be basically the next step,” Shinall said, adding that while it is the “most questionable” of Biden’s new orders, there is still a “very good case” for its legality.

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