President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate on our nation’s businesses and their employees is a misguided and unconstitutional attempt to dictate Americans’ personal health decisions. That is why we are fighting this overreaching mandate through the Congressional Review Act, the official process for Congress to eliminate an executive branch rule.
As the respective Ranking Members of the House and Senate subcommittees on Workforce Protections and Workplace Safety, this issue falls squarely in our jurisdictions. And as former business owners, we know what it’s like to manage a workforce and how overly burdensome mandates from Washington make it harder for Americans to earn a living.
America’s job creators are grappling with the most pronounced labor shortage in recent history. This challenge has been compounded by widespread disruptions in the supply chain — and now, another federal mandate that is driving a wedge between employers and employees.
Over the past year and a half, America’s businesses have done their best under extremely difficult circumstances. Last year, pandemic-related closures wiped out small businesses by the hundreds of thousands. Many who hang on are understaffed and face higher costs that make it harder to stay afloat.
The last thing Americans need at this critical juncture is to have their hands further tied by a president attempting to impose his political will on the private sector. But that is exactly what Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate seeks to do.
Under Mr. Biden’s mandate, every company in America that employs more than 100 people will be forced to impose vaccination policies on its workforce. Should they refuse, the Department of Labor will levy a $14,000 fine against them for every unvaccinated employee they retain.
Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate will impact more than two-thirds of the American workforce or 80 million Americans. These are the men and women who go to work every day, provide for their families, and understand the sacrifice required to build a successful business—something that Mr. Biden, a career politician, knows nothing about.
Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate is a highly inappropriate invasion of what should be a personal medical decision for every American. Never before in its 50-year history has the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—the agency charged with enforcing this policy—been corrupted into imposing such an oppressive mandate onto the American people.
Moreover, the practical effects of this mandate spell disaster for the American economy. The president would do well to focus on fixing our supply chain issues and curtailing the runaway inflation that increases the cost of living for every American family. Instead, Mr. Biden’s tone-deaf mandate will further inflame these crises by forcing the mass exodus of workers from critical industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, shipping, health care, education, and transportation.
Mr. Biden fails to understand that job creators care about the safety of their employees and customers. He thinks that Americans are not smart enough to make their own decisions, so Washington should do so for them. The president’s actions are motivated by intimidation, coercion, and control.
The good news is that a federal court recently issued a stay on the president’s mandate. The court placed the January 4, 2022 implementation date on hold after a coalition of states sued the Biden administration, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” While this ruling is only a temporary solution, it means we are on the right track in fighting this blatant government overreach. We will continue working through the legislative process to eliminate this unconstitutional mandate once and for all.
The American experiment is predicated on the principle that limitations on government power are necessary to protect the rights of individuals. This idea is constant across our founding documents, and it’s the very philosophy that compels each of the three coequal branches of government to serve as checks and balances on the others.
Should the Biden administration succeed in implementing its vaccine mandate, that basic precept upon which our American experiment was founded will be forever marred by the gross overreach of a rogue executive.
The American people are perfectly capable of making their own decisions regarding vaccination, informed by their convictions and in consultation with their doctors. They do not need nor want the president to do it for them.
• Fred Keller is an American politician from Pennsylvania who is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district. Mike Braun is an American businessman and politician serving as the junior United States senator from Indiana.