By Christian Wade | The Center Square
New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella has joined other Republicans in threatening to sue Democratic President Joe Biden over his COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Formella was one of 20 Republican attorneys general who wrote to Biden last week urging him to drop his vaccine requirement for employers, calling the plan “disastrous and counterproductive.”
“There are many less intrusive means to combat the spread of COVID-19 other than requiring vaccinations or COVID-19 testing,” the AGs wrote. “The risks of COVID-19 spread also vary widely depending on the nature of the business in question, many of which can have their employees, for example, work remotely.”
The state AGs also claim that the requirements are “likely to increase skepticism of vaccines” and vowed to challenge the new rules in court.
“From a policy perspective, this edict is unlikely to win hearts and minds – it will simply drive further skepticism,” they wrote. “And some Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying. This will further strain an already tight labor market, burdening companies and threatening the jobs of even those who have received a vaccine.”
Biden’s mandate, details of which are still being worked out, will require employers with more than 100 workers to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. The new rules will apply to federal workers and contractors who do business with the federal government. Companies face fines of up to $14,000 per violation, Biden administration officials said.
The plan will also require vaccinations for about 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding.
The White House estimates the mandates could affect 100 million Americans who are still not vaccinated against the virus, including thousands of workers in New Hampshire.
The state attorneys general argue that Biden’s mandate is not only illegal, but fails to acknowledge that some workers are not at risk for getting infected.
“Your sweeping mandate fails to account for the fact that many workers – for example those who work from home or work outdoors – are at almost no risk of exposure from their coworkers regardless of their vaccine status,” the AGs wrote. “A one size fits all policy is not reasoned decision making. It is power for power’s sake.”
About 55% of eligible New Hampshire residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 60% have had at least one shot, the agency says. Data shows that vaccinations in New Hampshire have been largely stagnant since the summer, despite being one of the top states for vaccinations.
Nationally, more than 180 million Americans – at least half the U.S. population – are fully vaccinated, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gov. Chris Sununu has said he is eager to join the fight against Biden’s new requirement, saying he won’t support a federal rule that requires people to get vaccinated.
“I am as pro-vaccine as it gets, but I do not support this mandate from Washington as it is not the answer,” Sununu said last week. “We need folks to get vaccinated, there’s just no question about that. But this was not the right approach.”
New Hampshire GOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek praised the state’s push to join the national fight against Biden’s vaccine mandate, which he called a “power grab.”
“I myself decided to be vaccinated when the option was available, but I would never force such compliance upon those who are unvaccinated,” Stepanek in a statement. “In times like these we must find empathy for our fellow Americans and rally behind the freedoms on which our country was founded.”
But New Hampshire Democrats and public health officials have criticized the governor’s vows to challenge the mandate, saying it sends the wrong message.
“Whether a “mandate” or not, the basic fact is Sununu and NH AG are wrong: there’s ZERO individual Constitutional right to override or harm public health,” Democrat Dan Feltes, a former Senate leader and gubernatorial candidate, posted on social media. “If Sununu really believes ‘we are all in this together’, he’d incentivize vaccinations, not sue @POTUS (President of the United States).”