Senator James Lankford (R-OK) has introduced legislation that would repeal President Biden’s September 9 Executive Order which mandates vaccines for federal employees and federal contractors.
Known as the Stop Vaccine Mandates Act (S. 2879), Lankford said introduced it because Biden has “excessively exceeded his power” by requiring federal employees to get the COVID vaccine.
“Every American should be able to make the decisions that are best for them and their families. My family made the choice to get the vaccine and I encourage every Oklahoman to get vaccinated, but no American should be forced to be vaccinated. The Stop Vaccine Mandates Act rescinds Biden’s Executive Orders—no American should have to choose between their conscience, their health, and their job,” said Lankford.
Companion legislation has been introduced in the House (H.R. 5360) by Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ). It has 21 co-sponsors as of the time of this writing.
Lankford has been critical of the vaccine mandate for federal employees since it was announced by the White House earlier this month. He also sent a letter to the president in which he said that the vaccine mandate “severely undercut Americans’ liberty to weigh their options and make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”
The letter further added:
…this mandate demonstrates a callousness toward the countless Americans who cannot be vaccinated based on their sincerely held religious beliefs, despite robust statutory protections for such accommodations. Further, these actions have belittled the difficulty of pregnant women, disabled individuals, and Americans undergoing treatment for countless medical conditions, including cancer, who are making reasonable judgements about what is best for their own health based on the information that is currently available. This Administration must defer these important decisions to individuals as they consult with their healthcare providers; instead, you have chosen to use the bully-pulpit of the White House to divide Americans between your definition of the vaccinated being “good” and the unvaccinated as “bad.” You are even threating to remove Federal employees who choose to not be vaccinated.
It went on to ask what legal authority the Biden administration has for issuing the vaccine mandate.
What Do FedSmith Readers Think?
According to our latest survey, FedSmith readers would mostly agree with Lankford on this issue. 63% of respondents disagreed with a mandatory vaccine for the federal workforce, and 32% went so far as to say they might leave their federal jobs if forced to get the vaccine.
Vaccine Mandate Lawsuit Filed by Federal Employees
Given the strong opposition to the vaccine mandates, it is not surprising that the federal government has been sued over the matter.
According to Bloomberg, a group of federal employees and contractors recently sued the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate. The lawsuit was filed on September 23, 2021 and challenges the president’s executive order mandating the COVID vaccine.
According to Bloomberg, “Among other things, the suit argues that a Christian is required ‘to refuse a medical intervention, including a vaccination, if his or her informed conscience comes to this sure judgment’ and that ‘naturally acquired immunity provides greater protection than vaccines.'”
The lawsuit says that it “…seeks redress from Executive Order No.’s 14042 and 14043…and the unlawful, manipulative, coercive, and deceptive tactics Defendants have employed and continue to employ to facilitate the mass vaccination of all active-duty service members, federal contractors, and federal employees.”
Attorney Mathew Tully said that there was “no question” the Biden vaccine mandate would be challenged in court. He also said that the only options federal employees appear to have to avoid getting the vaccine are for medical or religious reasons. (see Must Federal Employees Follow President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?)
Current Guidance for Vaccinations for Federal Employees
As of right now, current federal employees must be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021 per recent guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. This also applies to federal employees who telework and work remotely.