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Vaccines work, mandates don’t

In the Spring of 2020, the coronavirus upended normal life. First reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the virus spread rapidly across Asia and to the rest of the world, killing over 870,000 people in the United States and over 5.6 million people worldwide to date. 

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Mike Simpson

Realizing that the coronavirus would likely cause a pandemic-level spread of the COVID-19 disease, scientists and public health experts began developing a vaccine to prevent severe infection. Thanks to President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, safe and effective vaccines were developed by applying existing mRNA technology to the SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) genetic code. The vaccines underwent the typical Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine development process, including laboratory research, clinical trials and FDA license applications. It is a testament to scientists, as well as the foresight and initiative of the Trump Administration, that Americans began receiving doses of COVID-19 vaccines less than a year after the disease was first detected in the United States.  By now, 210 million Americans — that’s over 63% — have been fully vaccinated and can help prevent the spread of severe COVID-19.  As President Trump recently said, vaccines work, and more Americans should choose to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families. 

After consulting with my doctor, I got vaccinated and I am comfortable with my decision to do so, but it was just that — my decision.  Unfortunately, President Biden appears to believe that American citizens cannot be trusted to make their own health care decisions and is insistent on forcing private businesses to require vaccination for their employees. I firmly believe, along with all House of Representatives Republicans, that the federal government has no business telling private business owners how to manage their employees, especially when it comes to private health concerns. Let me be clear, I will never support a vaccine mandate.  That is why I have cosponsored several pieces of federal legislation to block or defund President Biden’s egregious vaccine mandates. 

The first bill, H.R. 5811, the No Vaccine Mandate Act, would prohibit the use of federal Fiscal Year 2022 funds for enforcing any rule requiring a COVID-19 vaccination. Specifically, the No Vaccine Mandate Act stipulates that none of the Department of Labor’s Fiscal Year 2022 funding ‘may be used to develop, implement, administer or enforce any rule that requires COVID–19 vaccination.’ As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I strongly believe that taxpayer dollars should not be used to enforce a mandate that infringes on citizens’ rights to make their own health care decisions.   

The second bill, H.J.Res. 65, is a joint resolution that would entirely erase the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard (ETS) forcing employers to require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing. If passed, this Congressional Review Act resolution would formally nullify the unconstitutional OSHA rule.  In a show of unified strength, the entire Idaho Congressional Delegation has cosponsored the House or Senate version of this legislation.   

Finally, I have also cosponsored H.R. 5471, the Health Freedom for All Act. This bill would prevent the Department of Labor from issuing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate and would clarify that under existing law, OSHA does not have the authority to implement widespread COVID-19 vaccine or testing mandates.   

Although I was deeply disappointed in President Biden’s decision to mandate vaccines, I applaud Governor Brad Little’s efforts to maintain personal freedom in Idaho.  The state of Idaho has joined several efforts fighting the mandates, and as a result of those efforts, the Supreme Court has recognized the Biden Administration’s overreach and blocked the enforcement of the vaccine mandate for large employers.  This is a win for small business and job creators across our state. 

At a time when our nation’s economy is struggling to recover from the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as dealing with historic inflation and supply chain disruptions, we cannot afford to hamper job creators’ abilities to help Americans get back to work.  Instead, the federal government should get out of the way and allow businesses and employees to make the health care decisions that are right for them. Further, the Biden Administration should redirect federal resources away from one-size-fits-all mandates that punish the American people and toward investigating the origin of the coronavirus and preventing future pandemics. Only when we fully understand how this virus initially spread can we truly prepare to prevent future outbreaks. 

As we mark two years since COVID-19 was first detected in the United States, I wish to recognize the grit and strength of Idahoans throughout this public health emergency. Our health care workers, educators, grocers, ranchers and growers, construction workers, small business owners, bus drivers and others, but also parents, neighbors and friends who have stepped up to lend a helping hand, deserve our thanks for their hard work over the last two years. I am hopeful that as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans will come together in the spirit of civility and compassion to rebuild in ways that make sense for their communities. After all, it is diverse American innovation that has brought us this far through the pandemic, and I believe that same innovation will bring us out.

Rep. Mike Simpson represents District 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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