Biden’s vaccination plan receives backlash from Maury County leaders
President Joe Biden announced a new plan on Thursday, outlining a “six-pronged strategy” to tackle COVID-19, which includes vaccine requirements for 100 million American workers.
The new mandate would require companies with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers receive the COVID-19 vaccine or are tested weekly, under the direction of the US Department of Labor, Health and Safety Administration at work.
Biden said the measures are aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 as patients overwhelm hospitals and daily cases and deaths increase.
The plan also includes vaccine requirements for healthcare providers who receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, as well as teachers and staff, who are part of federally funded programs such as Head Start and schools run by the Ministry of Defense and the Indian Education Bureau.
In total, the proposed changes would impact 100 million workers in the United States, or roughly 30% of the nation’s population.
Biden’s goals received a storm of criticism from predominantly conservative elected leaders in southern Middle Tennessee.
Call for special legislative session
Through social media, Representative Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, called on the Tennessee General Assembly to hold a special legislative session in a video filmed outside the county courthouse. He said he would stand with Governor Bill Lee to “push back” the terms.
Cepicky also said he agrees 100% with his colleague representing Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro.
“The overbreadth of the Biden administration flagrantly violates the US Constitution and the State Constitution of Tennessee,” Rudd said in a statement posted on Cepicky’s Facebook page. “Biden is going beyond his obvious legal powers and limited capabilities with this attempt to take control of state and local government. We must all take a stand against this tyranny.”
Debbie Matthews, deputy chair of the Maury County Republican Party, said the local party also supported “immediate action” through a special legislative session called.
“While we appreciate and thank Governor Lee for his early announcement to stand up for the citizens of Tennessee over Joe Biden’s current federal reach, Tennessee cannot wait for these issues to be dealt with in the courts,” Matthews said. .
“Tennessee families and businesses need immediate action. The Maury County Republican Party demands that the governor follow the Tennessee Constitution and let the Tennessee General Assembly do its job. We insist that he follow the Tennessee Constitution. authorizes a “special legislative session” by the Tennessee General Assembly. “
Governor Bill Lee has promised to push back Biden’s terms, which he called “divisive.”
“The Constitution will not allow this takeover, and in the meantime I will stand up for everyone in Tennessee. ‘It’s not about freedom’ is a phrase that should never come out of a president’s mouth. American, “Lee joked in a social media post Thursday.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III then released a statement on Twitter on Friday.
“Our office is working with other state officials to review and assess the president’s new plan,” he said. “It will take some time. The Ministry of Labor rule has not even been written; executive decrees are complex; and frankly, I doubt anyone knows the real ramifications of his actions at this point. ”
Meanwhile, Matthews and the MCRP believe the issue could be resolved more quickly through the General Assembly.
“Our legislators have asked [a special session] for months, “she said.” Govt. Lee and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally denied our legislature the ability to fulfill its constitutional duty. We respectfully insist that they do not continue to play politics during this perilous time. “
Not only did Matthews call the warrants unconstitutional, she also criticized the use of state and federal executive orders.
“We, as citizens of this Republic, refuse to be governed by unconstitutional executive decrees, both at the federal and state levels. We want immediate action to recall our legislature in session to deal with these issues after the rush, ”she said.
Those on the other side of the island shared an opposite point of view.
“I think we all value our freedom tremendously, but we’re at a point where people put aside their hesitation and do the right thing, thinking that people might not want to hear this, it is. of the government’s responsibility that people do the right thing, “said James” Gwen “Dallas, chairman of the Maury County Democratic Party. “It is extremely important that everyone who can get vaccinated as soon as they can. “
In response to comments made by local officials, Dallas equated the mandate with a requirement for a school vaccine.
“I think we all value personal freedom, but it’s time to stop being hyperbolic,” Dallas said. “When you look at other free countries around the world, I think we’ve fallen behind in the war on COVID. In this country, this is a reasonable measure which, if necessary, is overdue. “
U.S. Representative Scott DesJarlais, R-Tennessee, called Biden’s plan an attack on the freedoms of American citizens.
“The Biden administration has proven how far it will go to limit the freedoms of the American people,” DesJarlais wrote in a Facebook post on his page, followed by more than 60,000 people.
“This is blatant government excess. Every American should have the opportunity to see their doctor to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine is the best choice for their personal health. “
“An impossible choice”
In November 2020, DesJarlais, R-Tennessee, was re-elected to serve his sixth term at US House, 4th District, representing much of southern Middle Tennessee.
“Federal workers are now faced with an impossible choice, get vaccinated or be fired,” DesJarlais said.
U.S. Representative Mark Green, R-Tennessee, expressed a similar sentiment, arguing that the president lacks the power to implement the order.
“Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is unconstitutional,” Green said on his Facebook page. “The federal government does not have the power to tell private companies what to do.”
Green, a former state senator, was re-elected for a second term in November 2020, representing the 7th Congressional District, which includes part of Maury County.
“What each of us has to do is fight for our freedom,” Green said in a video released Friday.
US Senator Marsha Blackburn, who previously held the seat now held by Green, has called Biden a dictator.
“Joe Biden looks more like a dictator every day,” Blackburn told his social media followers.
Back in Colombia, Maury County Commission Chairman Don Marrow said he preferred to stay out of national politics and instead look after the needs of the local community.
“It’s a tough call,” said Morrow, who is now in remission from cancer.
“Business people have to keep production going, and if the vaccine will help maintain productivity… but that’s a freedom of choice,” Morrow said. “I got the shots because I’m at risk, but if I was 40 I might think about it differently. I think we should always have the right to refuse the vaccine. “
In the non-partisan world of work, Jan McKeel, president of the South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance, commented on the mandate’s impact on workers and employers.
“Many large employers have already taken this step, while others have anticipated the possibility and have plans to implement,” McKeel said.
“We could see staff turnover increase in companies that come under vaccine requirements, which has already been a reason – voiced by many large employers – why they have been reluctant to implement the requirements before the start. President’s announcement.
“Additional turnover could add to an already tight labor market. Of course, a vaccinated workforce will result in less spread of this dangerous virus.”
Rachel Wegner contributed to this story.
Contact Mike Christen at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.