Biden to mandate vaccines for all large employers (Update: GOP Governor's respond)

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Allahpundit just wrote about President Biden’s big COVID announcement today mandating vaccination for federal workers. But it appears there was a surprise in his plan that didn’t make it into the early coverage. According to an Associated Press story that was just published a few minutes ago (as I write this), Biden is going to mandate vaccination on all companies with more than 100 employees, though there will be a weekly test out option for those employees.

President Joe Biden on Thursday is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.

The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated…

The requirement for large companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation, an administration official said. The White House did not immediately say when it would take effect, but said workers would have sufficient time to get vaccinated.

So the federal workers will have 75 days to get vaccinated or be handed over to the HR department. Some religious or medical exemptions may be granted but it sounds like most government employees won’t have much of a choice. Meanwhile, large companies will be required to demand their employees be vaccinated or be fined but people in the private sector can still test out on a weekly basis.

Where to begin with this? I guess the obvious question is this: Can Biden even order this mandate? That’s not clear to everyone.

Some people are wondering if this comes from the same White House suggestion box as Biden’s extension of the eviction moratorium, i.e. it’s probably unconstitutional but we can do it anyway until the courts strike it down.

The Gov. of Arizona isn’t a fan and calls it “un-American.”

Gabriel Malor says he’d like to see the actual order but suggests this is the kind of thing he could imagine being blocked by a court challenge:

And sure enough, Gov. Noem is already promising to take this to court:

Assuming that doesn’t happen and this survives a challenge, what exactly is the enforcement mechanism here?

My own immediate reaction to all of this is that it strikes me as blatantly political, a desperate effort to change the subject from Afghanistan and the border where Biden is getting beat up. Instead the White House wants to refocus on COVID where their poll numbers are shaky but still above water. It’s not even a new approach to avoiding bad news. It’s exactly what Gov. Cuomo tried to do after multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Show people you’re still hard at work and hope they forget about the other stuff that threatens to drag you down.

The problem is that this particular approach seems designed to start a fight, or as Rep. Crenshaw put it, a “full on revolt.” If you thought the pushback on mask mandates were heated, just wait for the pushback on this.

I don’t think the White House is dumb enough to have missed that they are essentially juggling dynamite here. I think they’ve looked at the poll numbers and decided that a fight like this will play well with their base. They probably also assume this won’t survive contact with the courts but they’ll get points for at least trying to own the cons (though as Rep. Crenshaw points out, a lot of unvaccinated people aren’t conservatives).

It will be interesting to see where people come down on this. Stephen Miller notes that Dr. Fauci is on the record saying this would never happen. I wonder what he’ll say after the announcement.

I’ll wrap this up by noting the sudden shift in Jen Psaki’s approach to national vaccine mandates. Here she is in July saying such mandates are not the role of the federal government:

Here she is today saying stay tuned for the mandates:

Here’s more Psaki confirming that the government is ready and willing to get you fired if you don’t comply.

Update: Over at Reason, Robby Soave points out it’s not just Jen Psaki and Dr. Fauci who are on record as being against vaccine mandates:

…on July 31, Walensky corrected a comment she had made that some interpreted as being supportive of a federal mandate. “There will be no nationwide mandate,” she said. “I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate.”

Biden himself said there would be no mandate last December:

Here’s video of his comment:

BTW, Walter Olson, whose tweet about the legal authority of this move I included above had continued to look into it.

Update: I know I’ve brought this up before but this tweet really did not hold up well. He should have told us the plan was to fine businesses and get people fired.

But it will only happen if companies go along with it. Jazz points out they may not.

This afternoon I spoke to someone who works for a large private employer (not connected to HotAir or Townhall media) they told me they still have a lot of people working partly from home. Response to this mandate could be as simple as telling people not to come into the office unless you are vaccinated. So some people will just work from home and the company won’t be able to enforce the mandate on them under those circumstances. I guess we’ll find out.

Update: Dr. Fauci says the president definitely has the authority to do this.

I mentioned reactions from Gov. Noem and Gov. Ducey above. Other states are also planning to fight this.

Nebraska:

Georgia:

And Texas:

The media coverage of all of this is going to be spectacular: