Several Republican governors on Thursday vowed to take President Biden to court over newly announced measures requiring workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Biden unveiled a six-step plan after weeks of surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and delivered a speech from the White House in which he expressed exasperation with the roughly 25 percent of eligible Americans who have refused to get the coronavirus vaccine.
The president, as part of his plan, said the Labor Department would issue an emergency rule to require all private employers with 100 or more workers to mandate vaccines or weekly testing. Biden also ordered federal employees to get vaccinated in the next 75 days, with limited religious and medical exemptions.
The moves escalated Biden's battle with GOP governors who have staunchly opposed government intervention on the pandemic, such as masking or vaccination requirements. A number of those governors swiftly pledged legal challenges to Biden's new efforts.
"I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) tweeted.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) called the strategy "egregious big government overreach" that infringes on personal freedoms. He further argued the virus will be present "for the foreseeable future" in questioning the value of the additional requirements.
"The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective tools to prevent the disease, but getting the vaccine is and should be a choice," Ducey said in a statement. "These mandates are outrageous. They will never stand up in court. We must and will push back."
Kristi Noem, the South Dakota governor who is viewed as a possible 2024 presidential candidate, tweeted that her legal team was exploring paths for a lawsuit.
And Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) vowed there would be no government vaccine mandates in his state despite Biden's orders.
The immediate pushback underscores one of the main challenges Biden has had to grapple with as he seeks to get the pandemic under control. Biden on Thursday vented his frustration with elected officials who have blocked health measures to combat the virus, arguing they were contributing to the sickness and deaths of thousands of Americans.
"The path ahead, even with the delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter," Biden said. "But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemics politics that I referred to are making people sick."