President Joe Biden’s promise on Thursday to punish certain businesses that don’t test workers weekly for COVID-19, or require vaccination as a term of employment, elicited praise from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
“I’m grateful that the Biden Administration is taking strong steps to protect the public,” he said. “I strongly support the efforts at the federal level to prioritize vaccinations, which further support my administration’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 – efforts that are working.”
About two-thirds of adults in Pennsylvania are fully vaccinated, according the Department of Health. The state ranks fifth in the nation for total doses administered.
Biden’s new rule means employers with 100 or more workers must test weekly or mandate vaccinations. Federal workers and contractors must also get immunized as a term of their employment.
“Pennsylvanians understand that the best way to fight this virus is through vaccinations and the president’s announcement will further increase our vaccination rates and keep everyone safe,” Wolf said.
Elsewhere across the state, Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation remained mostly quiet on the issue, with a few notable exceptions.
Retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, questioned the legality of the mandate in a statement posted to his website Friday. Sean Parnell, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate running to replace him in 2022, likewise spoke out against the administration on Twitter.
Toomey said although he believes vaccination is “the right choice for most of America,” forcing individuals and employers to do so by government fiat is wrong and will backfire.
"But federal government mandates, of dubious legality, will further alienate the skeptical, undermine our institutions, and punish ordinary business owners and their employees,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-12, likewise vowed to use his authority as the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections to “fight these totalitarian measures through all available means.”
“This administration is trampling on the rights of 80 million private sector workers and weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to impose government-sanctioned workplace discrimination on the basis of vaccination status,” he said.
Employers who don’t follow the new mandate face a $14,000 fine per violation, according to Toomey's office.
“The federal government has no authority to dictate who is permitted to have a job, and Biden’s efforts to strong-arm employers into compliance will not stand,” Keller said.
Across the aisle, most of Pennsylvania’s nine Democratic lawmakers made no statement regarding the mandate as of Friday.
Except for Congressman Mike Doyle, D-18, who tweeted support for the measure as a way to slow the recent surge of delta variant cases and “save lives.”
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Original Author: Christen Smith, The Center Square
Original Location: Pennsylvania governor praises Biden’s vaccine mandates