House Republicans on Friday railed against President Biden’s vaccination mandate, saying the new workplace rules break constitutional norms and will force many to lose their jobs.
In a show of force, more than 30 House Republicans gathered outside the Capitol to lambast the new mandate for workers at large companies to get COVID-19 shots.
Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, who led the event, said the mandate smacks of socialism.
“They say socialism is when the government controls the means of production. Well, right now we’ve got a president who is imposing vaccine mandates on private businesses across America telling job creators and business owners that the government knows better than they do,” he said. “I’d call that control of your means of production a clear and dangerous step into socialist governance.”
Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana called the mandate “big government on steroids.”
“They are steamrolling over our constitutional norms over the limitation on the executive branch,” Mr. Johnson said.
The lawmakers were joined by Russell Vought, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Trump administration. He predicted the courts will block the mandate.
“If I were at OMB today, I would have sent this back to the agency for lack of lawfulness. That is there is no statutory basis for it. It is unconstitutional. It is unwise,” he said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the new rule Thursday. Workers at large companies have a Jan. 4 deadline to get vaccinated or face weekly testing.
Employees who refuse to get vaccinated must wear masks in the workplace as of Dec. 5. The rule also requires employers to interview workers and draft a roster of vaccination status within four weeks.
The lawsuits challenging the mandate quickly started piling up. By Friday, at least 23 states were involved in various lawsuits against the rule. The Daily Wire, a conservative media company, also filed a lawsuit saying Mr. Biden exceeded his authority.
Mr. Biden said he was forced to resort to heavy-handed rules.
“Vaccination is the single best pathway out of this pandemic,” he said. “And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements — and they are working.”
Only 58% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, although nearly eight in 10 eligible Americans have received at least one shot.
At the Capitol, the Republicans also accused Mr. Biden of lying when he said in December 2020 that he did not think the vaccine should be mandatory.
Rep. Lisa McClain, Michigan Republican, said the president needs another kind of inoculation.
“We need a truth serum vaccine from this administration,” she said.
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