(The Center Square) – 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.
“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 tweeted. “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.”
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?"
"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."
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?”