This Monday, the White House said that businesses should continue vaccinating their workforce as instructed by the Biden vaccine mandate, despite a federal court ordering a temporary halt on the execution of the order as the judges found “grave and statutory and constitutional” issues with Biden’s order. When asked at a press conference if businesses should wait and see how things play out in the courts, The White House Deputy Press Secretary said to business leaders “do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe”.
The remarks come at a time when Biden’s vaccine mandate is facing both legal and practical challenges. Last Saturday’s Fifth Court of Appeals of the United States temporary ban on the vaccine mandate is not the only legal challenge that the administration is facing, with the Attorney Generals of at least eleven states also suing the federal government over the mandate, even private companies like conservative media outlet the Daily Wire have also sued the mandate.
Opposition on all sides
Biden’s vaccine mandate is also facing logistical, economic challenges. A recent report by the Associated Press indicated that intelligence agencies might be facing a serious labor shortage if the vaccine mandate is implemented, a large part of its labor force would have to be fired in a single day due to their unvaccinated status. Furthermore, businesses across the country have already raised concerns about the effects the mandate could have in the labor supply, as businesses across the country are already struggling to find new workers.
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The mandates have not only been opposed by Republican politicians or conservative activists, with even labor unions that have regularly been supportive of the Democratic Party voicing their concerns over the mandate, with the American Federation of Government employees issuing a statement criticizing the mandate back in September.
Most recently, the Democratic governor of Kansas, Laura Kelly, came out against the Biden vaccine mandate saying that while she “appreciates the intention to keep people safe, I don’t believe this directive is the correct, or the most effective, solution for Kansas”.
President Biden, who had previously ruled out implementing a nationwide vaccine mandate a few weeks after he won the 2020 presidential election, issued an executive order compelling all businesses with more than 100 employees to either ensure that their workforce is vaccinated or that unvaccinated workers receive weekly COVID testing. The details of the order were then revealed last week, with the federal government setting January 4th as the deadline for businesses to implement the measure.
The current administration has defended the necessity of the nationwide vaccine mandate, with the Surgeon General saying in an interview with ABC that “the president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think that they were appropriate and necessary”. Deputy White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that the administration also “clearly has the authority to protect workers, and actions announced by the president are designed to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19”.
Although the Biden administration has framed the issue of vaccine mandates as a necessary step in the fight against COVID-19, some health experts have doubted the real need for implementing the divisive measure, with former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb noting that 80% of U.S. adults already have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, asking the administration which level should the country reach and also questioning what would the Biden vaccine mandate actually achieve. Gottlieb also said that the opposition to the mandate could bleed into broader opposition to the vaccine, risking that a “whole generation starts turning against the vaccine”.
The Biden administration issued a legal filing responding to the decision of the Fifth Court on Monday, with the plaintiffs having until 5:00 pm Tuesday to respond to the government’s arguments.
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.