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Federal vaccination mandate ignores Constitution, science

by Rep. DAN NEWHOUSE
| November 19, 2021 1:00 AM

President Biden is more concerned about government control than the safety of our workforce or the protection of our individual rights.

On Sept. 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order requiring all federal employees and contractors be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22, 2021, and Dec. 8, 2021, respectively. The alternative? Termination.

Not only does this mandate go against our inalienable rights protected in the Constitution, but it ignores the fact that natural immunity also provides protection against infection from the virus. In fact, other countries have adopted policies upholding this as a valid, science-based exemption from vaccine requirements.

Federal employees who have opted not to receive the vaccine because they have natural immunity developed after recovering from the virus do not deserve to be fired. Especially when those same men and women have worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe and healthy before there was a vaccine available. These men and women, who have been on the frontlines since the beginning of the pandemic, risking their families’ health and safety to ensure our federal and state projects continued and that our communities remained protected, deserve our respect — not our condemnation.

Forcing our federal workforce to choose between employment and vaccination is truly reprehensible.

President Biden’s nonsensical mandate also fails to take into consideration the more-than-adequate safety protocols these workers have and will continue to follow. Once in place, the president’s mandate will put the safety of our communities at risk by terminating employees whose very role is to protect our communities. This action has severe ramifications for communities like ours in central Washington, where the federal workforce has a significant impact on our local economies. From Hanford workers, contractors, and first responders to federal water managers and dam operators, federal employees keep our families safe and keep the lights on. Vilifying the men and women who have been working round-the-clock for the last year and a half on behalf of central Washington with no scientific basis is not the way to promote good will or encourage vaccinations.

That is why I introduced the Options Over Terminations Act. This legislation would provide an exemption to the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for any federal employee or contractor who provides proof of COVID-19 antibodies. Simply put, my bill provides them with an option — a permissible, science-based exception from President Biden’s recent executive order.

While President Biden’s executive order requiring vaccinations for all federal employees and contractors at the threat of termination goes too far, it’s also become a model for Democrat governors across the country, including Gov. Inslee, who are using it to justify their own drastic actions and impose similar, state-level mandates. Now, in addition to the hundreds of Washington state emergency personnel who are already out of work, threatening the safety of our communities, we also have hundreds of federal workers in Washington state who are facing termination. These dictatorial policies set a dangerous precedent, even after more than a year of severe overreach by our governor. I will continue to fight for the men and women of central Washington — and all American workers — to have safe, and scientific, options besides termination or vaccination.

Getting vaccinated is a personal choice between an individual and his or her doctor, not an individual and the government. The narrow provisions required under this current executive order force my constituents into choosing between their ability to earn a living for their families or making a personal, medical decision that may or may not be right for them. Safe and effective alternatives to this mandate are not only available, but paramount in protecting the health and safety of our workplaces and the individual liberties of Americans across the country.

While I continue to encourage anyone who is able to do so to get vaccinated, it simply is not constitutional — or effective — to impose expansive “one size fits all” mandates. President Biden needs to stop dictating and start leading, beginning with considering smart, science-based alternatives.

Rep. Dan Newhouse represents the 4th Legislative District in the U.S. House of Representatives.