Republican officials in Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, and Kansas are preparing state-level aid designed to help those dislocated by President Joe Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandates.
Specifically, GOP lawmakers are looking to change unemployment rules in those states to allow those who are fired or forced to quit due to their refusal to take the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
The move comes as deadlines imposed by Biden’s unprecedented vaccine mandates inch closer.
Biden introduced a sweeping vaccine mandate in September, telling the nation that “our patience is wearing thin” with the millions of Americans who have chosen not to receive the relatively new vaccine.
The mandates would have originally affected as many as 100 million Americans, nearly a third of the entire U.S. population.
These mandates wouldn’t only require federal employees and those in the military to get vaccinated, but would also extend into the private sector through a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule. The OSHA rule would require that all firms with 100 or more employees mandate vaccination or weekly testing for the virus.
Congressional Republicans wasted no time in criticizing the measure as an overreach of power by the president, and have put forward several proposals and motions to weaken the mandates.
In mid-November, Republicans in the Senate formally challenged the OSHA rule using a parliamentary procedure that could overturn the rule altogether with only a single Democratic defection.
The mandates also have faced challenges in the federal court system.
Referencing Biden’s “thinning patience,” 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, a Trump appointee, wrote that to protect “our constitutional structure … the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions—even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials” must be upheld.
State-level Republicans also have been hard at work challenging mandates on both the public sector and the private sector.
According to a report by the National Academy for State Health Policy, two states—Montana and Tennessee—have banned vaccine mandates by private employers altogether.
In Montana, for instance, unvaccinated individuals are guaranteed the same treatment by employers and under law as their vaccinated counterparts, with all forms of discrimination, including employment, barred.
Meanwhile, a law signed by Gov. Bill Lee guarantees much the same to Tennesseans.
Additionally, private employers in seven states—Florida, Alabama, West Virginia, Utah, Iowa, Arkansas, and Texas—are permitted to mandate vaccines for their employees but must allow employees to opt out on personal, moral, religious, health, or other grounds.
In another 10 states—Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Utah, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, and Montana—vaccine mandates for state employees are banned.
Now, GOP officials in Florida, Iowa, Tennessee, and Kansas are going a step farther and are seeking to help those affected by Biden’s mandates.
While White House press secretary Jen Psaki during a press conference rejected the notion that the mandates would have an effect on unemployment, the effects of such mandates on employment have already become clear.
These have been most pronounced in the health care industry, where vaccine mandates are most stringent. Nurses have warned that these mandates are setting the stage for even worse nationwide staff shortages amid already worrisome health care staff shortages.
Their fears unassuaged by Psaki’s promises, Republicans in these states are considering measures that would expand unemployment eligibility to those dispossessed by the mandates.
For Americans in these states with deeply held philosophical, religious, or practical reservations to taking the vaccines, of which the long-term effects aren’t yet certain, the expanded eligibility offered by these new proposals could help to minimize the damage caused by vaccine mandates.
In offering this expanded eligibility, the GOP is showing itself friendly to citizens who hold such reservations, a move that could help the party win support during the 2022 midterms.