Photo: Nurses and healthcare workers protest against vaccine mandates and take a stand against “medical tyranny.” Photo Credit: tncnews.com
By Jon Styf [The Center Square contributor] and Jason Vaughn [The Tennessee Conservative] –
President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations against COVID-19 received a strong response from Tennessee Republicans and business organizations.
One of the earliest responses came from Gov. Bill Lee.
In a news conference last Thursday, Lee said, “I think that’s a terrible idea.”
“For a fight that requires working together, a lot of cynical and divisive edicts came out of the White House [Thursday] pitting the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, businesses against employees, and the federal government against states,” Lee posted on Twitter. “The Constitution won’t allow this power grab, and in the meantime, I will stand up for all Tennesseans.
“To be clear: the vaccine is the best tool we have to combat the pandemic but heavy-handed mandates are the wrong approach,” Lee tweeted.
A reporter for Fox 17, Jackie DelPilar, asked the Governor if he would encourage these employees to go against the mandate.
“I’m always going to encourage anyone to comply with the law. I think that would be a very ill-advised law and I suspect we’ll see a lot of response to that, I think it’s a bad idea,” Lee said in response.
Business organizations throughout the state agreed that a plan to require vaccinations and employers to test employees for COVID-19 could be a costly requirement for the state’s business environment. The National Federation of Independent Business believes this could compound the issues businesses already are facing in finding employees.
“Small businesses face daily challenges from pandemic requirements, locating qualified workers, rampant inflation and supply chain disruptions,” Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB vice president of federal government relations. “Small business owners and their employees want to operate in a safe and healthy manner that allows them to stay open. Additional mandates, enforcement and penalties will further threaten the fragile small business recovery.”
“President Bident’s recent actions establishing significant vaccination verification and testing mandates for employers is not the right solution,” the Tennessee Chamber of Commence said in a statement. “In fact, over 76% of businesses in a recent survey by the Tennessee Chamber opposed the federal government dictating vaccination protocols to business.”
Some of Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers believed the requirement was an overreach of power by the president.
“This no longer a conversation about should I take the vaccine,” state Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, tweeted. “Does [the president] through rule or [executive order] have the Constitutional authority to force you to inject something in to your body as a condition of employment. Why do we need Congress? What will the next [executive order] or rule require of you?”
Representative Diana Harshbarger called the President’s new mandate “government overreach.”
“Government overreach, such as Biden’s outrageous vaccine mandate announced yesterday, is threatening American freedom,” Harshbarger said. “These measures are not about COVID, they are about control. I oppose these mandates.”
“The vast majority of of us pushing back against Biden fully understand the significant and serious threat of Covid-19,” state Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, tweeted. “However, we see the threat of a tyrant/authoritarian to be far greater to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ than a virus.”
Tennessee Democrats had a different response.
Representative Vincent Dixie agreed with Biden’s announcement and said it is a necessary step for the public’s health and safety.
“We’ve seen what happens to the unvaccinated population, they’re filling up the hospitals right now, they’re the ones dying, so if people won’t take care of themselves, sometimes the government, that’s our job, step in and make sure people are safe and healthy,” Dixie said.
“We have all gotten vaccines because the government tells us to,” Dixie said. “Starting from when we were babies, where we were first born we had vaccines, to enter into grade school we had vaccines, so I think that is an unwise argument to settle in.”
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State Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, responded on Twitter with: “Wait until the people freaking out today learn we still have the selective service system, where the government can literally muster 18-25-year-olds into military service?”
Other state leaders across the nation were also upset with the President’s announcement, including Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves. Reeves also took to Twitter to share his dissatisfaction.
“The President has no authority to require that Americans inject themselves because of their employment at a private business,” Reeves said. “The vaccine itself is life-saving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying. This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.”
About the Author:
Jon Styf is a freelance writer for Tennessee and South Carolina. Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com