Missouri Republicans assailed President Joe Biden’s push to require employees of private businesses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing, vowing a legislative response and legal action.
Gov. Mike Parson promised to “fight back against federal power grabs and government overreach” in a tweet Thursday afternoon, calling Biden’s plan “an insult to our American principles of individual liberty and free enterprise.” In an interview with the Kansas City Star, he left open the possibility of a special legislative session to respond to the vaccine mandate.
Several lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden — a Columbia Republican considering a run for Congress — demanded Parson call a special session.
“Much of this nonsense will get laughed out of court presumably” Rowden tweeted about the mandate.
Lawmakers will return to the Capitol next week for the annual veto session, where they will consider whether or not to override any of Parson’s vetoes. Unless a special session is convened, however, they cannot consider any new legislation.
The Missouri House Judiciary Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss the issue and hear public testimony.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, hinted that in response to the mandate he may once again join in a lawsuit against the Biden administration. Schmitt has been involved in a litany of lawsuits against the federal government over the last year, and joined in litigation late last year seeking to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.
“America has been the freest country in the history of the world and I’m not giving up on it,” Schmitt tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who is also running for U.S. Senate, released a statement arguing that whether or not to receive the vaccine should be a personal decision between an individual and their doctor.
“The White House’s demands violate this principle,” she said.
Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Labor would issue an emergency rule requiring all businesses with more than 100 employees to compel their workers to be fully vaccinated or test negative at least once a week.
That edict would apply to about 80 million workers.
In addition, Biden vowed to issue an executive order requiring all executive branch employees and federal contractors to be vaccinated. He also intends to broaden a vaccination requirement for health care workers treating patients on Medicaid and Medicare in nursing homes, hospitals and at-home care settings.
U.S. Sen Josh Hawley released a letter he wrote to the secretary of labor questioning the agency’s authority to enforce a vaccine mandate on private businesses.
“Vaccination should be an individual decision based on choice, not required by the federal government,” he wrote, “or worse, required through midnight emergency regulations at the administrative level.”
Biden, during public remarks Friday, predicted the mandate would survive any legal challenges from GOP officials.
“I am so disappointed, particularly that some of the Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids,” Biden said, “so cavalier with the health of their communities.”
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