DES MOINES, Iowa – President Joe Biden announced a plan to require companies with 100 or more employees to mandate their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine or offer weekly testing. His announcement was met with criticism from several Iowa Republicans.
The president, during his remarks on Thursday, expressed frustration with Americans who are unvaccinated.
“We can, and we will, turn the tide on COVID-19. It will take a lot of hard work. It’s going to take some time. Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” Biden said.
He also criticized governors.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s caused by the fact that despite America having unprecedented and successful vaccination program; despite the fact that for almost five months, free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations. We still have nearly 80 million Americans will fail to get the shot. And to make matters worse, their elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable,” he said.
“What makes it incredibly more frustrating is we have the tools to combat COVID-19. And a distinct minority of Americans, supported by stink minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics (unintelligible) are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal,” Biden added.
Gov. Kim Reynolds responded to his announcement saying, “enough is enough.”
“President Biden is taking dangerous and unprecedented steps to insert the federal government even further into our lives while dismissing the ability of Iowans and Americans to make healthcare decisions for themselves,” she said.
Reynolds argued his policy would worsen the workforce shortage.
“Biden’s plan will only worsen our workforce shortage and further limit our economic recovery,” she added. “As I’ve said all along, I believe and trust in Iowans to make the best health decisions for themselves and their families. It’s time for President Biden to do the same. Enough is enough.”
Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, responded to Reynolds’ statement saying Iowans should not be distracted but stopped short of defending the mandate.
“Don’t be distracted: Governor Reynolds rejected $95,000,000 in federal support to keep our schools safe. We are in this dangerous delta surge because of the choices made by Iowa Republicans to reject aid, embrace vaccine skepticism, and ignore our responsibilities to each other,” he tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, said the president’s approach is the wrong one.
“I share the outrage that many Iowans have already expressed to me regarding President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal choice, a choice my family and I decided to make because the vaccine is safe and effective, and a choice I believe Iowans should be able to make for themselves. Doling out fines to small businesses and punishments to workers will only worsen the economic challenges we are facing. This is the wrong approach to increasing vaccinations and moving our country forward,” she stated.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called the president’s executive order a distraction from his administration’s “disastrous” Afghanistan withdrawal.
“I’m pro-vaccine, and anti-federal vaccine mandates. Iowans should be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, and President Biden’s new heavy-handed federal mandates take that freedom away from Iowans. It’s beyond hypocritical, a cynical attempt to turn the page on a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan where an unknown number of Americans remain stranded and abandoned,” she told The Iowa Torch.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, responded by saying he encourages people to be vaccinated but opposes the mandate.
“Ive always encouraged Iowans who are eligible to get the safe & effective COVID-19 vaccine & continue 2 encourage but it is YOUR choice I OPPOSE the heavy hand of federal govt mandating the vaccine on private biz,” he tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, who formerly led the Iowa Department of Public Health, also opposed the mandate.
“Deeply opposed to federal mandate requiring Americans to receive COVID-19 vaccines. I gave COVID-19 vaccines in #IA02 & encourage adult vaccination & speaking with doctor with concerns. Natural immunity effective & respect choice. Our job to transparently show benefits & risks,” she tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, responded to President Biden’s remarks that his vaccine mandate was “not about freedom.”
“This IS about freedom,” he tweeted. “America is the greatest country in the world, founded on the critical and delicate principle of individual liberty. The Executive Branch has no right to dictate healthcare decisions for Americans.”
He added that Biden “crossed a dangerous line.”
The Iowa Torch reached out to U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, who has not commented publicly yet and will update this article with her reaction.
Also, State Senator Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, who is running in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, and State Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City, who is running in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, have not commented publicly about the president’s announcement.
The Republican Party of Iowa noted Iowa Democrats’ silence.
“What we are seeing is an unprecedented use of government resources to coerce the American people into following Biden’s path,” said Republican Party of Iowa Communications Director Kollin Crompton. “His plan is not only un-American and reckless, it is a dangerous step towards authoritarianism and Iowa Democrats are nowhere to be found.”