Senate and House Republicans are joining forces to introduce legislation aimed at combatting President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 “jab or job” ultimatum on American workers during the nation’s understaffing and supply-chain crisis.
The “Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act” intends to shield workers who sacrificed their time and health during the height of government-mandated lockdowns from the Biden administration’s attempts to mandate the COVID-19 jab for American laborers.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, one of the bill’s sponsors, said at a press conference on Thursday that the legislation would apply to essential workers as defined by local communities, which often include “health care workers, law enforcement, the trucking industry, first responders all across the nation,” as well as construction workers and grocery store personnel.
“This legislation very simply states that if you are deemed an essential employee during the COVID-19 pandemic, you showed up, you went to work, you did your job, you kept this country running, you would be exempt from the federal vaccine mandate,” Blackburn said.
“I hope this catches stride and we use this as the pivot point to get the government to back off with these draconian policies that are not only hitting our cities like Chicago, states across the country, but the private sector that increasingly the other side of the aisle seems to dismiss,” Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, another sponsor, said.
President Joe Biden’s decision to force private-sector employers to mandate the COVID-19 shot for their employees is currently unenforceable, but as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration gears up to craft a rule that can back the Democrat’s vaccine press release and the country grapples with understaffing, Blackburn said now is the time to act.
“There are 10.4 million vacant jobs in this country right now. And this is going to add hundreds of thousands of vacant jobs. It will make the supply chain worse. It will mean fewer individuals working in nursing homes and hospitals. It will be fewer cops on the streets. It will endanger what we see with airline workers being able to get these planes in the air to get them unloaded and to service the flying public,” she said. “We are here to help solve a problem that exists not only for Tennessee but for workers all across this country.”
This legislation has gained support from various industries and organizations including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the president of the Owner–Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, who is one of the Chicago police force’s leading voices to oppose Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vendetta against officers who refuse to get the COVID-19 jab, said that this legislation will help protect the jobs of those who can combat the nation’s rising crime.
“Police officers in Chicago, Illinois, and countrywide have been at the forefront of this fight and [are] still doing their job. … The last thing we could afford to do is have more officers off the street protecting American cities in a situation right now because they’re making decisions, whether it’s religious-based, morally based, or decisions with their families. These are hard decisions our officers are making, and they should be personal decisions that they are respected for and let them go back and do the job and keep America safe,” he said.
Brandon Judd, the National Border Patrol Council president, also expressed support for the legislation and said that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can’t afford to lose any employees to Biden’s vaccine mandate during the president’s ever-growing border crisis.
“We’re in the fifth-largest worst security crisis that we’ve ever faced in our nation’s history. … We cannot afford, at this time, during the biggest crisis as far as border security goes, we can’t afford to lose any of our employees,” Judd said. “Right now, we’ve had over 6,000 CBP employees that have asked for exemptions to this vaccine mandate. If we lose even a couple of those people, it’s a couple too many as far as the border goes today.”
“We were asking our nurses to run to the sound of the sirens or police officers or EMS, and they did, and now what’s happening is they’re getting slapped in the face, they’re being told even though they have natural immunity, we’re saying that you have to choose the jab or the job,” Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas said.
Blackburn said Republican Reps. Tim Burchett and Kat Cammack plan to workshop a similar bill in the House of Representatives.