Will Joe Biden make Covid vaccine mandatory? POTUS may start with Fed staff: Report
New report indicates POTUS could make vaccines mandatory for federal workers, as Delta variant causes massive surge, return of mask mandates
As the Delta variant of the coronavirus rampages throughout the United States, the federal government has resorted to some extraordinary measures. The CDC has announced the return of mask mandates, and now it appears President Joe Biden is going to act as well. According to a new report, the President is likely to announce vaccine mandates for federal employees, a move that will no doubt stroke massive backlash.
To date, Biden has been against issuing vaccine mandates. On December 4, he said, "I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory. But I’ll do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing," on the campaign trail. He's also taken a stance against vaccine passports, as explained by Dr. Anthony Fauci during a May interview on CNN. Instead, he's resorted to roping in celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo in a bid to make vaccination seem exciting.
However, it seems like Biden's efforts have had little effect. Vaccination rates have dramatically slowed down, and Covid-19 cases have shot up over the last few weeks. On July 26, the nation reported over 88,000 cases, a spike last seen in February. In a bid to battle the need for lockdowns, bot the CDC and the Biden administration have decided to act, but are likely to face a massive backlash from the public and the GOP.
Will Biden make the vaccine mandatory?
On July 27, CNN reported that the President is likely to introduce a vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors. The announcement will reportedly be made on Thursday, July 29 when Biden addresses the nation on new steps to combat the Delta variant. The dramatic measure comes as right-wing commentators, and the Republican Party continues to sow doubt about the safety and necessity of a vaccine. He alluded to their role on Tuesday, July 26. "We have a pandemic because the unvaccinated and they're sowing enormous confusion... if those other hundred million people got vaccinated, we'd be in a very different world," he said.
Seeing as millions of Americans are yet to get their shots, the President has reportedly considered vaccine mandates as a last-ditch effort. "It's under consideration," he told reporters. It now appears as if the plan has moved from the consideration phase. Axios reported it could be phased in, starting with federal employees in healthcare like the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service. It could then be expanded over time to other departments.
The approach is not likely to be a single-focused one. CNN believes federal employees will either have to get vaccinated or submit to frequent Covid-19 tests. The hope is the tests will serve as a "means to convince workers to get vaccinated". The Justice Department is already working to ensure such an order would have legal standing. Earlier, the Office of Legal Counsel ruled that vaccine mandated don't violate federal law, paving the way for the Veterans Affairs department to mandate vaccines for all healthcare workers.
It is believed that the order won't extend to the military for now, even though Biden has the ability to do so. He is, however, likely to outline a roadmap for the Department of Defence if they wish to impose a vaccine mandate. Axios reported, "the dominant internal view is that it's better to wait for an official request from the Pentagon." Earlier, the military confirmed it would wait for the FDA to fully authorize the vaccines before issuing mandates. Currently, all vaccines have been authorized for emergency use (EUA), and not permanently.
Over the past year, Republicans have made it very clear they will fight back against any efforts to impose vaccine mandates. Rep. Thomas Massie was one of the 25 House members to sign on HR 3860, a bill that would prohibit vaccine mandates on the army. On July 23, a group of Iowa state lawmakers sent a letter to Trinity Health after the group made the vaccine mandatory for its workers. In May, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that would withhold state grants and contracts from local governments or businesses that require proof of vaccination.
All over the country, the GOP has begun moving to limit vaccine mandates, or "passports" which has led to a large number of Americans refuse to get their shots. However, many Republicans have also been calling on people to get their shots, in a bid to walk a careful tightrope ahead of the 2022 midterms. The result is chaos and confusion, allowing Covid-19 to spread like wildfire. That led the CDC to reimpose mask mandates on July 27, even for fully vaccinated people. Now, it seems like vaccine mandates are on their way.