Oklahoma GOP leaders continue to push back against COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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A woman is injected with her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Dallas County Health and Human Services vaccination site in Dallas, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.

FILE – A woman is injected with her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Dallas County Health and Human Services vaccination site in Dallas, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Several Oklahoma Republican leaders have lent their voices to the fight against the Biden Administration’s federal and private employee vaccine mandate.

President Joe Biden announced sweeping vaccine mandates for a large swath of the nation’s workforce on Sept. 9 as part of his six-pronged plan to combat the highly contagious Delta variant’s rapid spread across the nation.

Biden’s plan requires businesses with over 100 employees to mandate COVID vaccines or regular testing.

The plan also requires healthcare and education workers who receive federal funds, as well as federal employees and contractors, to be vaccinated.

“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you,” Biden said.

He said it will impact about 80 million Americans.

At the time of the announcement, several Oklahoma GOP leaders spoke out against the mandate.

“This is a gross overreach by President Biden and I support our state’s efforts to protect Oklahoma employers and employees from this federal mandate. The vaccines are safe and effective, but it should remain a choice for each of us to decide whether to get vaccinated. The federal government should not interfere in the decision-making of a private business on the steps it takes to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers.

A federal mandate is a terrible way to convince more people to get vaccinated, and I am disappointed the president would choose this path rather than working alongside state and local officials, and private business, to further address this health care crisis.”

Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City

“Yesterday, President Biden released his ‘Path Out of the Pandemic,’ a plan that requires Americans get vaccinated. Biden and his administration have previously stated that there would be no vaccine mandates. They lied. Through this order, Biden has placed the burden on American employers, forcing their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly. These companies are still in recovery from the pandemic, searching for employees to fill empty positions, and now they must also comply with government mandates or be penalized. The Federal government must focus its efforts on rebuilding the economy, not continuing to encumber the private sector with commands and red tape.

This directive continues the long list of overreaching executive orders that began on day one of Biden’s term. As he laid out the details of this latest order, Biden said: ‘This is not about freedom or personal choice,’ but it is about this very thing. This type of federal overreach is unconstitutional, and yet another example of Democrats’ efforts to grab power at every opportunity. The RNC has already indicated their intent to challenge the authority of this executive order in federal court, a move I wholeheartedly support.

To be clear, I am proud of the work Operation Warp Speed played in creating this vaccine to combat this deadly disease and I encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated, but businesses should not be forced to bear the brunt of that responsibility, it should be left to the individual to decide for themselves.”

Representative Stephanie Bice, (R-OK-05)

In September, Sen. James Lankford filed the Stop Vaccine Mandates Act, which would repeal President Biden’s executive order that mandates vaccines for federal employees and contractors.

In October, Lankford told KFOR that although he supports Americans getting vaccinated against COVID-19, he did not feel like a mandate was the right move for the president.

Lankford’s measure was blocked by a Democratic senator October 20.

“President Biden is playing a game of chicken with Oklahomans’ lives and livelihoods. No one should have to choose between their job and their personal health care decisions. I have pushed hard against the vaccine mandates since they were first announced by introducing bills to repeal the mandate for federal employees and contractors and protect service members from dishonorable discharge and speaking directly to agency heads to share the real impacts these mandates are already having on Oklahomans. Now my colleagues and I are urging others to take a stand and vote in favor of our resolution to overturn Biden’s vaccine mandate on businesses and their employees. I will continue to fight/advocate to preserve our liberties and against Biden’s extreme overreach.”

Senator James Lankford

In September, Attorney General John O’Connor and 20 Attorneys General from other states wrote to President Biden to challenge his administration’s mandatory vaccination requirement for federal contractors.

“There are currently no rules that require employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for employees.   I urge Oklahoma employers to disregard the Biden Administration’s wishes to the contrary.  In the event federal emergency rules are issued that place such an unlawful demand upon employers, our office will be joined by other state Attorneys General across the country to quickly sue and seek an injunction against any implementation or enforcement.

Oklahomans should have the right to make their own personal health decisions for themselves and their families.  Employers that are mandating vaccines are unfortunately doing so upon their own initiative. Religious, medical, and personal exemptions should be uniformly approved by those employers at the very least.”

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor

In an October YouTube video, Gov. Stitt slammed the Biden administration’s latest COVID-19 mitigation tactics.

Then on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Stitt sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin requesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates be suspended for members of the Oklahoma National Guard.

“It is irresponsible for the federal government to place mandatory vaccine obligations on Oklahoma national guardsmen which could potentially limit the number of individuals that I can call upon to assist the state during an emergency.” 

J. KEVIN STITT, GOVERNOR OF OKLAHOMA

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined 40 other Republican U.S. representatives to formally challenge the mandate under the Congressional Review Act – the official process for Congress to eliminate an executive branch rule.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) can be used by Congress to overturn certain federal agency regulations and actions through a joint resolution of disapproval. If a CRA joint resolution of disapproval is approved by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President, or if Congress successfully overrides a presidential veto, the rule at issue is invalidated.

“This unconstitutional decision by President Biden to officially mandate the vaccine within the private sector is yet another example of intrusive government overreach that threatens the livelihoods of Oklahomans and jeopardizes the continued recovery of small businesses that are the backbone of our state. The individual decision to get the vaccine should not be mandated by Washington bureaucrats and I am proud to join Sen. Braun and many of my colleagues in introducing legislation to reverse this out-of-touch national mandate.”

Senator Jim Inhofe

The White House is expected to issue the rule to officially mandate vaccination requirements sometime this week.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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