Lankford Successful in Blocking Biden's Vaccine Mandate on Private Businesses
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on YouTube.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) took to the Senate floor to share his opposition to Biden’s vaccine mandate and to support the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) before the Senate to stop the vaccine mandate on private employers. The CRA passed by a vote of 52 to 48.
Earlier today, Lankford participated in a press conference to discuss the Senate’s planned vote today on a resolution of disapproval.
Senate Republicans, joined by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT), took action today to stop the mandate and send the resolution of disapproval to the House of Representatives for a simple-majority vote. Lankford was glad to see that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suspended implementation and enforcement of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for private employers after a ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked the measure in November. Lankford penned an op-ed with Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) on their support for the resolution of disapproval and calling their colleagues to support the move as well.
Lankford joined Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and all 48 of their Republican Senate colleagues to file a formal challenge against President Biden’s vaccine mandate under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which is the official process for Congress to eliminate an Executive Branch rule. For several months, Lankford has pushed back on Biden’s vaccine mandates targeting federal employees, contractors, healthcare workers and the military. Lankford tried to force a vote on his Stop Vaccine Mandate Act, which was blocked by Democrats. Lankford introduced the Stop Vaccine Mandates Act to repeal President Biden’s Executive Order that mandates vaccines for federal employees and federal contractors.
Lankford has been vocal about President Biden’s Executive Order. He sent a letter to President Biden outlining his concerns with the vaccine mandates and has stood firmly with Oklahoma service members, health care workers, federal employees, and private-sector workers who have chosen so far not to be vaccinated.
Lankford stood firmly with the Oklahoma National Guard and Guard members around the nation twice last week to offer his bill on the Senate floor. Late last night, Lankford offered the legislation as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit the Department of Defense from discharging or withholding pay or benefits from members of the National Guard because of their COVID–19 vaccination status. Lankford also worked to secure a provision in this year’s NDAA to ensure service members are not dishonorably or less-than-honorably discharged if they choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
It's not hard to recognize the system fact that this is the United States of America, home of the free, land of the brave. Then why is it such a difficult conversation with so many people in my state when they ask this question: are we still free as a nation? Why are we having this conversation? Are we still free as a nation? Of course we are.
We're having this conversation because September 9 the President of the United States announced he was losing patience with the American people, and he was going to put a new demand on every single office in America, every workplace, that anyone who had 100 or more people in their company, every single person in that company had to be vaccinated because the President was losing patience with them. He said it's for health risks.
COVID-19 is serious. I've been vaccinated. Everyone in my family's been vaccinated. I'm exceptionally grateful for the vaccine. But to be able to reach into companies with this one simple statement, ‘If you don't follow my instructions,’ so the President says, ‘You will be fired.’ That every person in the country now doesn't work for their employer, they now work for the President of the United States. May I remind us, we are the United States of America—home of the free, land of the brave, that we are a people that make our own decisions and live in a free nation?
What's interesting is this, there's all this conversation about everyone needs to be vaccinated or we're not going to ever get to herd immunity. We'll never get to herd immunity. We'll never put down COVID-19. How many times have we heard that statement over the last year and a half, we've got to get to herd immunity? I don't know if anyone's looked lately at the CDC’s website, but if you go to the CDC website, it will list out how many—percentage wise—how many people have been vaccinated or currently have natural immunity in their system. If you go to their website and see it, the number that they have for 16 years old and up is 92 percent of America. Ninety-two percent of Americans either have natural immunity, antibodies in their system, or they've received the vaccine and have that set of antibodies in their system.
May I remind us again, how long have we been talking about herd immunity? I understand COVID is a tenacious disease. I take it seriously because like every single person in this room I’ve lost family members and friends that have died to COVID. But we do not have the right as Americans to assign to the President of the United States that that president can actually go to any company he chooses and pick and choose the companies and say, ‘This company, everyone has to be vaccinated, that company they don't. If you have 95 people, it's no big deal. If you have 100 people, they're toxic. If you're FedEx and UPS, you need to all be vaccinated, but if you're the United States Postal Service, you don't have to be vaccinated.’ That kind of picking and choosing that the president has done around our economy, that is not the role of the United States president. Now, for all of us that take this disease seriously, and for all of us that have been vaccinated and stand up frequently and talk about the importance of vaccintions, we also believe that we're Americans and that we're free people.
So what are the mandates that are down now? Well, there was a private-sector mandate for every company of 100 or more. There was a federal-contractor mandate that if you have a company that works for the federal government, regardless of your size for any federal contracting, that you have to also have every person vaccinated. You have federal employees that all have to being vaccinated. Members of the military, reaching into National Guard, for the first time ever they violated the law saying they're going to literally cut the pay for members of the National Guard not vaccinated, though the law clearly states they cannot reach into a state National Guard and literally pick and choose individuals they want to pay and don't pay. They've already dropped that out there, saying they're going to do that as well.
They've reached out to members of the healthcare community and told them if you have Medicare or Medicaid then you all have to be vaccinated. But what's going to be the response? The American people have responded loud and clear that they believe we live in the land of the free. And while millions and millions have been vaccinated, they all turn around and say, ‘It was also my choice to be able to do that.’ Companies in my state are literally requiring employees to sign two forms, one saying that they will get vaccinated and the second form saying if you have a negative reaction to the vaccine, you won't sue our company. What in the world? That's not who we are.
So what's happened in just the last couple of weeks? Well, the courts have finally gotten involved. First off, the courts have done a nationwide stay on the private-sector mandate. That's what we're talking about tonight, putting a nail in the coffin with a vote in the United States Senate to say, ‘No. We will not allow this.’ There's been a nationwide stay put in for those individuals that are in Medicare and Medicaid and health care workers. There's been a nationwide stay now for federal contractors, for universities, for individuals around the country that have any connection with the federal government.
The courts have already stepped in and said, ‘The President doesn't have the authority to do this.’ And this vote tonight is whether this body agrees that the President should have unilateral power to declare whatever he wants for any private-sector business in the country or if the President doesn't have that authority to do that. That's all this vote is. This vote is not about vaccines, and as it’s been falsely accused, this whole group of ‘anti-vaxxers’ out there. This is a very simple vote.
Do the people in this body believe that the President of the United States has the authority to declare any employee and any company of 100 or more to do what he wants? I say, no, because we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and it's time for us to go on record on if we believe that or not.
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