(The Center Square) – Congressmen and business groups in Ohio reacted strongly to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates that require employees to be vaccinated, submit to weekly testing or lose their job.
Biden rolled out the list of new rules Thursday via executive orders and federal regulatory changes, most notably requiring all private employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are vaccinated or get tested weekly.
U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Ohio, tweeted the mandate could create more vaccine hesitancy and infringes on liberty.
“Forcing Americans to get vaccinated flies in the face of individual liberty and has caused irreparable harm in its affect on vaccine hesitancy,” Balderson tweeted.
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, doesn't believe the Department of Labor can make large employers force vaccine mandates on employees, tweeting “No. They. Can’t.”
Jordan followed with another tweet that encompassed other restrictions during the pandemic and guns.
“First, they say you can’t go to church. Then, they try to take your guns. Now, they’re trying to take your job. No vaccine mandates!”
U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, introduced federal legislation more than two months ago that would stop federal agencies, state and local governments and businesses from requiring Americans to present a vaccine card as a condition of buying goods, getting services or employment.
“My Vaccine Passport Prevention Act is designed to protect Americans from exactly this sort of overreach and violation of privacy,” Davidson said. “We need to hold a vote and get my colleagues on the record: Do they agree that the Constitution still protects privacy?”
The White House estimated the employee-vaccine-mandate rule, which will be enforced by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will affect more than 80 million Americans.
The new mandates also require all federal employees and contractors get vaccinated, with no testing opt-out option.
Many businesses throughout Ohio continue to struggle with staffing issues, forcing reductions in operating hours and limits on goods and services. Business groups fear the mandate will create more problems for small and large businesses alike.
“Small businesses face daily challenges from pandemic requirements, locating qualified workers, rampant inflation, and supply chain disruptions,” said Kevin Kuhlman, the National Federation of Independent Business' 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.”
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, headed up by former Congressman Steve Stivers, called a mandate the wrong approach.
“Whether it is the federal government or the Ohio legislature, one-size-fits-all government mandates limiting employer rights are not the right approach. The Ohio Chamber will always stand up for the rights of employers to manage what is best for their own business, employees and customers,” Stivers said.