By Masooma Haq
In response to President Joe Biden announcing his vaccine mandate for federal workers, Republican members of Congress have criticized the new rule for infringing on personal freedoms. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) called the mandate, “fascist— downright totalitarian.”
“Listen, the president of the United States just simply doesn’t have the authority for this kind of order. We can’t even fire federal employees for not doing their job, but we’re going to fire them for not getting vaccinated. That’s gross. It’s insane and it frankly violates the liberty of every federal worker, and it’s going to lead to this push-down effect,” Donalds said during an interview with Newsmax on Thursday.
Biden in a speech Thursday evening announced his mandate saying, “I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees that together employ over 80 million workers to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.”
Biden said the mandate will include healthcare workers and the majority of federal employees. “A total of 17 million health care workers. If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated —simple, straightforward, period. Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch, federal employees, to be vaccinated—all.”
Donalds said instead of mandating the vaccine, Biden should roll out testing and alternative treatments to combat the virus.
“We should be doing a number of things. Number one, like what we’re doing in Florida led by Governor DeSantis, making sure people are aware of Regeneron and other treatments that are there to help people get through COVID-19; number two, we need to be embracing antibody testing, not just COVID-19 testing, but testing for antibodies, because people have antibodies.
“That’s just like getting the vaccine, that’s the purpose of getting the vaccine, is to have antibodies. Antibody testing should be much more a part of this, but we should not be mandating vaccines,” said Donalds.
Biden called those who are not getting vaccinated as playing politics and Donalds said that Biden’s decisions are not based on the facts but on fear.
“I know people are afraid. They’re watching the news reports, they’re seeing many little stories from media, but we cannot be making fear-based decisions. We have to make data-based decisions and Joe Biden’s not doing that. He’s running on politics, he’s running on fear,” said Donalds.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Donalds’ statements.
Other Republican members of Congress joined Donalds, echoing that Biden’s mandate infringes on citizens’ personal freedoms. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), who has been fully vaccinated, said the executive branch does not have the authority to make such rules.
“These mandates are yet another example of President Biden taking away individual freedoms with the stroke of a pen. Getting the vaccine should be a personal decision. As my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are fond of saying, ‘my body, my choice,’” said Aderholt in a press statement on Friday.
Chair of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) slammed the new requirement for vaccines.
“Joe Biden’s forced vaccine mandate impacting over 100 million Americans is unconstitutional, unlawful, and an authoritarian power grab that has become a hallmark of his failed Presidency,” said Stefanik in a press release on Friday.
Meanwhile, Democrats have largely been silent on Biden’s new vaccine mandate, but some members have pushed for vaccine mandates for lawmakers. Nineteen Democrat members sent a letter to the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, Rear Admiral Dr. Brian P. Monahan, urging him to mandate the requirement.
“We write to you today to express our belief that the U.S. Congress should be considering a vaccine requirement for Members and staff of the U.S. Capitol complex or, at minimum, twice per week testing for those who are unable to verify positive vaccination,” the 19 Democrats, led by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.), wrote in their letter.