DES MOINES, Iowa – President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued rules regarding COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
USDOL issued a rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to require their employees are vaccinated or tested weekly. In addition, HHS issued a rule requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated but provides for religious and medical exemptions.
“Together, these rules will cover about 100 million Americans – two-thirds of all workers in America,” Biden said in a released statement.
He dismissed concerns about potential worker shortages due to the vaccine mandate.
“As we’ve seen with businesses – large and small – across all sectors of our economy, the overwhelming majority of Americans choose to get vaccinated. There have been no ‘mass firings’ and worker shortages because of vaccination requirements. Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support,” Biden stated.
“I’m calling on employers to act. Businesses have more power than ever before to accelerate our path out of this pandemic, save lives, and protect our economic recovery,” he added.
However, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear expressed concern about drivers leaving an industry experiencing a driver shortage due to the vaccine mandate.
The National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors also warned about mass layoffs and supply chain disruptions due to the vaccine mandate.
Gov. Kim Reynolds promised “immediate legal action” and blasted Biden’s decision.
“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 health care decisions for themselves,” she said in a released statement.
“Biden’s plan pits Americans against Americans, while forcing them to choose between making a living or standing up for their personal beliefs. Biden’s actions will only worsen the existing workforce shortages and supply chain issues that hinder our economic recovery,” Reynolds added. “I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make healthcare decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms. President Biden should do the same.”
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, also criticized the mandate.
“Today’s employee vaccine mandate rule from the Biden Administration defines the excessive federal overreach he committed to implement when he announced this rule by press conference in a feeble attempt to distract from his historic failure as Commander in Chief in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the Biden Administration appears to have delayed this rule purposefully in a futile effort to avoid political fallout in the off-year elections this week,” he said in a released statement.
“Iowa has significant workforce needs and creating more obstacles to work is the opposite policy needed to help our economy grow. Unfortunately, Joe Biden is more focused on more government, more taxes, and more intrusion into the everyday life of Iowans than he is about advancing policies to address the country’s workforce needs,” Whitver added.
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, echoed Republican criticism of the mandate.
“The Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate will keep workers, including health care professionals and law enforcement officers, on the sidelines of the economy during a labor shortage. Bottom line: Iowans shouldn’t have to choose between receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and providing for their families,” she said.