Arkansas Gov: Biden’s Mandate for COVID-19 Vaccine ‘Counterproductive,’ Fuels Division

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
September 13, 2021 Updated: September 13, 2021

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on Sept. 12 that he believes President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, announced last week, “hardens the resistance” some people may have to getting inoculated.

Biden on Sept. 9 issued several executive orders to require that all federal employees and the majority of health care workers get a COVID-19 vaccine. A White House plan also stated that Biden would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to mandate that businesses with 100 or more employees either mandate COVID-19 vaccines, require weekly COVID-19 testing, or be fined.

Hutchinson, a Republican, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes the president’s vaccination mandates will hurt nationwide efforts to vaccinate Americans, instead of supporting them. The federal requirements are “counterproductive,” he said.

“We talked about the fact that we’ve historically had vaccination requirements in schools,” the governor said. “But those have always come at the state level, never at the national level.

“And so this is an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority that really disrupts and divides the country. It divides our partnership between the federal government and the states. And it increases the division in terms of vaccination when we should all be together trying to increase the vaccination uptake.”

The mandate is expected to impact approximately 80 million private-sector employees.

Hutchinson said on Sept. 12 that he believes the decision to mandate vaccines for employees should be decided by individual businesses.

“I’m not aware of any governor from any state that said we want to mandate businesses to require vaccination,” he said. “I support businesses being able to require vaccination, but it’s their own independent choice for their workplace.”

COVID-19 vaccines have already been mandated by several federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon.

A day after Biden announced his vaccine mandate, at least 19 governors and two attorneys general—including Hutchinson—issued statements disagreeing with the administration’s move, with several vowing to defy it.

Hutchinson, chair of the National Governors Association, said in a statement: “I fully support continued efforts to increase vaccination rates across our nation, but the federal government mandates on private businesses are not the right answer.

“I have been consistent in freedom of businesses to require their employees to be vaccinated, and I have opposed the government from saying businesses cannot exercise that freedom. The same principle should protect the private sector from government overreach that requires them to vaccinate all employees.”

Biden earlier said the mandate is about “protecting yourself and those around you—the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”

The Epoch Times has contacted the White House for comment.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.