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We’re the land of the free and home of the brave. Let’s live like it.

By: Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

Pop quiz: Can a U.S. president drop by a local store and fire the manager and the assistant manager, then go fire the gas station attendant, then fire the cook and two wait staff at a restaurant? If you said, “no,” you passed the test. In China, North Korea or Venezuela, leaders may be able to impose their will on local businesses, but our president cannot and has not – at least not until recently.

On Sept. 9, President Biden declared his patience was “wearing thin” with the American people and announced that under his new plan, any person, regardless of their job, will be fired from any company with 100 or more employees if they don’t get a Covid vaccine. He expanded it to every federal contractor, federal employee, healthcare worker and the military. This mandate wasn’t a law passed by Congress. It was a unilateral decree from the top of Mt. Washington, D.C.

Most people I talk to around Oklahoma say they don’t have a problem if people want to be vaccinated, but they don’t think the government should have the authority to force people to choose between their job and the vaccine.

Federal courts paused the mandate for Oklahoma healthcare workers, federal contractors and private businesses. That’s a huge win, but it’s only temporary and could be overturned – though I don’t believe it will be. The Senate passed a resolution of disapproval that I championed to overturn the private-employer mandate, which now heads to the US House, where we believe it will pass, and land on the president’s desk.

Our Oklahoma National Guard members also aren’t immune to Biden’s overreach, even if they’re immune to Covid. The Guard works for the governor of each state. States have a responsibility to train and equip Guard members for natural disasters and state emergencies. Until they’re called up, Guard members work for the governor, not the federal government. But that hasn’t stopped the president from trying to order them around anyway.

At the end of November, our Guard members received a memo from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin saying every member of the Air and Army Guard must be vaccinated. If they aren’t vaccinated, even though they’re currently serving under Gov. Stitt, the Pentagon will withhold pay, benefits and access to training for any member according to the president’s wishes. This is a violation of the chain of command and the law.

No Oklahoman – including members of our Guard – should be forced to choose between their job and their health decisions because of a presidential proclamation.

Our nation has responded incredibly well to the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine in a very short time. But it doesn’t matter how many medals a person earned in the military, how many days they worked during the heat of the pandemic, or how essential they are to the operation of the company –Biden thinks they should be fired.

I’m confident some readers disagree with my stand for freedom and will say, this is a pandemic so the president should have authority to do what he wants, and people should just “get over it and take the shot.” That’s your choice to believe that, just like it’s your choice to take the vaccine.