(The Center Square) – A Kentucky congressman used social media Thursday to call out President Biden for mandating a vaccination-or-test requirement for some private businesses, saying it’s “absolutely unconstitutional.”
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, posted a series of tweets after Biden’s announcement. Among the steps the president said he’s taking to control the COVID-19 virus included an order for the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a rule that would cover 80 million workers. Companies with 100 or more workers would need to show that their employees are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or take weekly tests to ensure they have not contracted the coronavirus.
The Labor Department rule would be administered by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
“My job as president is to protect all Americans,” Biden said.
Massie, whose campaign website describes the five-term Republican as “Kentucky’s Most Conservative Congressman,” disagreed. He tweeted the president lacked the authority to issue that order as well as similar ones for federal contractors and health care providers.
“Inserting an administrative agency & your employer in the middle changes nothing,” said Massie. “This only stands if you and your employer comply with his illegal directive.”
The discussion comes as Kentucky is facing its worst stretch during the 18-month long pandemic. With the prevalence of the delta variant, Gov. Andy Beshear said that last week was the worst for the state in terms of new cases.
Less than 100 intensive-care beds were available in hospitals across the state, and to held health care providers deal with surging caseloads, the governor ordered 310 National Guard members to provide non-clinical support to 21 hospitals.
That move will allow hospital workers to dedicate their time to deal with patients, Beshear said.
“This shows that every hospital is bursting at the seams, that they desperately need help and that we are a state full of more desperately sick people than we have ever seen,” he added.
In recent weeks, many large companies had already started taking steps to require workers to get the shots, including Tyson Foods. The meat production company has facilities in Claryville, a northern Kentucky community in Massie’s district 15 miles south of Cincinnati, and in Robards, a western Kentucky town 20 miles south of Evansville, Ind.
Louisville-based health insurer Humana Inc., Kentucky’s largest publicly traded company in terms of revenue, last month told its employees and contractors who work outside of their homes that they would need to get vaccinated once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved a vaccine.
Less than a week later, the FDA gave such approval to the Pfizer vaccine.