“[COVID-19 has] become a political issue, which is a sad, sad commentary.”
President Biden said this last week while defending his sweeping – and blatantly political – COVID vaccine mandates. Despite the halfhearted concern coming from the White House podium, Tennesseans know these mandates are a play to appease the radical left at the cost of more than a million livelihoods.
In the Volunteer State, Biden’s mandates will put the jobs of 1,226,077 workers at risk — nearly 40% of our state’s labor force. Approximately four out of ten manufacturing and wholesale workers may lose their jobs. In terms of economic impact, the mandate will cost Tennessee businesses 72 million dollars. Especially in rural areas, these mandates will affect much more than the bottom line. By force-firing medical professionals who choose not to get the shot, the administration will be putting their political agenda between patients and doctors and eliminating options in communities already struggling to access care.
Last week, I spoke with healthcare workers from Chattanooga who are already grappling with the fallout from vaccine mandates implemented by private sector employers hoping to avoid potential conflict with federal regulators. One doctor lamented, “We’re not taking as good of care of patients because we don’t have the staff to do it.” Another stressed the “big downstream consequences” that will come from complying with Biden’s decree. These doctors, nurses, and medical professionals made it abundantly clear that the mandates will weaken hospitals’ ability to provide care, and that patients will suffer.
Immediately after the mandates were announced, I got to work on Capitol Hill. I introduced legislation that would exempt essential workers from COVID vaccine mandates, a move supported by major police, first responder, border patrol, and trucking associations. Most recently, I joined a bipartisan group of 50 Senators to formally disapprove and nullify the mandates under the Congressional Review Act.
Biden’s habit of playing politics with Tennesseans’ livelihoods must stop. While shots are an effective way of managing illness, that doesn’t give the federal government the right to seize control over individual health care decisions or force compliance on private businesses. Fortunately, the push for accountability is just beginning. Congressional pressure and the courts have temporarily halted the mandates, and it is now up to Congress to both ensure that the prohibition is permanent and put the administration on notice that they have once again surpassed their constitutional authority.