Last week, President Joe Biden announced executive orders that mandate vaccinations for the COVID virus for what is estimated to be 100 million workers in both the public and private sector.
The backlash has been swift and strong, with people from both sides of the isle claiming the President has no authority to impose such requirements, and with promises of lawsuits, and vows to quit jobs rather than acquiesce.
Absent from the mandates are similar requirements for members of Congress, federal judges, or their staffers.
The executive mandates would require vaccination for federal employees, the military, and government contractors, and they make clear that political force will be brought to bear against private sector companies with more than 100 employees to either require vaccination of their employees or be tested weekly for the virus.
All hospitals and other medical facilities accepting government payments for Medicare and Medicaid would have to force employees to comply or lose their status to get such payments.
And, all this at a time when, in Montana, most businesses are struggling to find the labor they need and to keep it. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, approximately 72 percent of unvaccinated American workers said they would rather quit their jobs than be forced by the government (through their employer) to get the shot.
The President’s edict stands, in direct conflict with laws and policies in many states of which Governors are vowing to push back. Should the Governors attempt to do so, however, a spokesman for the President said “President Joe Biden is willing to ‘run over’ any Republican governors who attempt to fight back against federal vaccine mandates.”
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte issued a Twitter statement saying, “President Biden’s vaccination mandate is unlawful and un-American…We are committed to protecting Montanans’ freedoms and liberties against this gross federal overreach.”
It is being predicted that President Biden will face “an avalanche of lawsuits.”
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said he will file suit as soon as the law is effective. A surge of some 27 Republican governors, have indicated they will do likewise.
Nationally, media reports said, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, wrote in a Twitter post, “My legal team is standing by ready to file our lawsuit the minute Joe Biden files his unconstitutional rule. This gross example of federal intrusion will not stand.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, , wrote that his administration will “pursue every legal option available” in order to halt what he called a “blatantly unlawful overreach.”
The conclusion that the President lacks such authority is one with which even the President himself agreed just a few weeks ago, when his administration issued a statement saying, …issuing vaccine mandates is “not the role of the federal government.”
Convention of States Action released new polling shortly after the announcement that showed 58.6% of those surveyed “do not believe President Biden has the constitutional authority to force private businesses to require vaccine mandates for employees.”
In the same poll, 29.7% of voters said Biden does have the authority, and 11.7% are unsure. In addition, 55.5% of voters say the mandate “sets a precedent that could be abused by future presidents on other issues.”
According to U.S. Census data roughly 51%, 185,000, of Montanans work for businesses with less than 100 employees and won’t be affected by the order.
Montana Free Press reported that in its analysis of 2019 U.S. Census Bureau labor data, “there were 411 employers in Montana with more than 100 workers who would fall under the OSHA rule. Collectively, those employers had 99,564 Montanans on their payrolls.”
It is being assumed by many that the edict will push many more people into getting vaccinated. About 51 percent of Montanans have been vaccinated, at latest reports.
Predictions are that the virus is near peaking in Montana or will do so by mid-October.
To curb the spread of the virus is the reason for the mandate. Although he said weeks ago he would not issue such a mandate, Biden has apparently changed his mind, amid constantly rising numbers of infections across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by the Delta variant or other variants is to be vaccinated, and Biden said he is relying on “the best available data and science-based public health measures” to do so.
Apparently “government employees” does not include the 630,000 people who work for the Postal Service, a quasi-public entity. Biden specifically mentioned that the mandate does not apply to the Postal Service.
In July, The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said, “It is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.”
The federal agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be used to enforce compliance with the mandate on the private companies.
Conversations about what has to happen to implement the President’s edict indicate that it isn’t anything that is going to happen quickly. Weeks and often months are mentioned as issues regarding regulatory processes and rule making requirements. While OSHA can skip part of the process required by that agency, if it is deemed an emergency, just writing the regulation can take weeks.
According to some reports OSHA’s “emergency temporary standards” policy allows for some immediate action from the agency, under “certain limited conditions. According to OSHA’s website, “OSHA is authorized to set emergency temporary standards that take effect immediately and are in effect until superseded by a permanent standard.”
To issue such a temporary order, OSHA “must determine that workers are in grave danger” from toxic substances or other “physically harmful” agents. If OSHA complies with the request from the president, workers in mid-sized to large firms—with more than 100 employees—will be affected.
According to the Convention of States Action poll, the governors who are pushing back have Americans’ support. The survey found 56.1% of voters “support the efforts of state governors to oppose Biden’s nationwide vaccine mandate on private businesses.” That includes 46.3% who “strongly support,” and 9.8% who “support.”
Opinions on the mandate fall largely along party lines. Nearly 80% of Republicans support the governors standing up to Biden while about 30% of Democrats feel the same way.
This poll comes on the heels of another poll released last week that showed a sharp drop in approval for Biden after the deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The Economist/ YouGov poll reported last week that Biden’s approval fell to an all-time low of his presidency, with 39% of Americans approving of his job performance and 49% disapproving.
“The drop in Biden’s approval rating is most severe among Democrats,” the poll reports. “Around nine in ten of them had approved of Biden’s performance for nearly all of his first year in office. This week, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats dropped nine points to 77% from 86% last week.”