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Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers draws support, ire

By
Clyde Hughes & Don Jacobson
President Joe Biden criticized some Republican governors of being cavalier with students' health while visiting Brookland Middle School in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
President Joe Biden criticized some Republican governors of being "cavalier" with students' health while visiting Brookland Middle School in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 10 (UPI) -- The response to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine requirements -- mandating inoculation for federal workers and contractors, and setting rules for large private companies -- has ranged from applause to backlash.

Biden announced the mandate on Thursday, directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to require vaccination at private companies with more than 100 employees.

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Republican lawmakers and commentators vehemently opposed the mandates, while Biden responded by accusing GOP governors fighting vaccine mandates of being "cavalier" with health of schoolchildren.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the Republican leader on the House Education and Labor Committee, called the requirements "crushing" to the economy and for constitutional rights.

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"Biden has no business issuing a burdensome vaccine regulation that will further harm overworked and struggling business owners," Foxx said in a statement. "This is a Hail Mary attempt by a president who is failing to 'crush the virus' and is now burdening job creators with a rushed and unprecedented regulation."

"In South Dakota, we're going to be free," Gov. Kristi Noem told Fox News. "We will take action. My legal team is already working."

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House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy called the mandates "flat-out un-American."

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"President Biden has made the small business an enemy of his administration," McCarthy tweeted. "To Joe Biden, force is more important than freedom. Americans won't stand for it."

"Joe Biden told Americans when he was elected that he would not impose vaccine mandates. He lied," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. "Now small businesses, workers, and families across the country will pay the price. Like many Americans, I am pro-vaccine and anti-mandate."

According to a Society for Human Resources Management survey, almost 30% of unvaccinated workers said they will not get inoculated even if it costs them their jobs.

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On Twitter, the hashtags #DoNotComply and #IWillNotComply were among the top 10 trending after Biden's announcement on Thursday.

The conservative-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce responded by saying the actions will "ensure that employers have the resources, guidance and flexibility necessary to ensure the safety of their employees and customers."

But the Business Roundtable advocacy group said it "welcomed" the move and applauded the requirement that companies offer paid time off for workers to get vaccinated.

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"America's business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic, which is why so many have invested resources in encouraging and incentivizing their customers and employees to get vaccinated, including providing paid time off," Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten said in a statement.

"Over the past several weeks, many companies have decided to implement a vaccine mandate for some or all of their employees, a decision we applaud."

After touring Brookland Middle School in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Biden had a message for opponents who are threatening to challenge the vaccine mandate in court.

"Have at it," he said.

"Look, I am so disappointed that particularly some of the Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids," he added. "So cavalier of the health of their communities. We are playing for real here. This isn't a game."

In saying he hoped Americans' highly politicized response to the health crisis could provide a cautionary lesson for future students, he added, "It's not how we are. It's not who we are as a nation. It's not how we beat every other crisis in our history. We've got to come together."

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