Less than a week after announcing a vaccine mandate for private sector companies that employ at least 100 workers, Democratic President Joe Biden met with high-profile CEOs and other corporate leaders at the White House on Wednesday to persuade businesses to back the requirement.
According to CNBC, Microsoft president Brad Smith, Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Greg Adams, and Columbia Sportswear Chairman and CEO Tim Boyle were among the invitees.
The New York Times reported that Boyle “said in an interview on Wednesday that his company had drafted a policy mandating vaccines months ago. But it had held off carrying it out until Mr. Biden announced last week that he was directing the Labor Department to issue an emergency safety declaration that would effectively function as a vaccine mandate for tens of millions of workers.”
“There’s much less opportunity for people to go somewhere they don’t need to be vaccinated,” Boyle reportedly said, adding that having unvaccinated employees is “highly disruptive.”
A White House official described the gathering as a “rallying cry” to sway other companies to follow suit.
According to The Washington Post, Biden “is looking to demonstrate his actions have the support of some of the nation’s largest businesses and brush aside criticism from Republicans that the mandates are executive overreach.” The requirement is expected to impact more than 80 million employees in private sector businesses. Unvaccinated workers will be subjected to weekly testing if they choose not to get jabbed.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden said when he addressed the nation last week. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”
During Biden’s speech, he appeared to repeatedly blame unvaccinated Americans for increased COVID-19 transmission nationwide.
Several Republican governors have pushed back against Biden’s “COVID-19 Action Plan,” which includes fines up to $14,000 per violation for businesses that don’t comply.
“The President has no authority to require that Americans inject themselves because of their employment at a private business,” tweeted Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves on the day the Biden administration revealed its strategy. “The vaccine itself is life-saving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying. This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.”
The President has no authority to require that Americans inject themselves because of their employment at a private business. The vaccine itself is life-saving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying. This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.
— Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) September 9, 2021
GOP governors leading other states, including Texas, South Carolina, Montana, and Alabama, have voiced similar sentiments.
According to ABC News, “Arizona became the first state to sue over the mandate this week, although the Department of Labor has yet to create the rule mandating the vaccine.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, issued a statement on Tuesday arguing Biden’s mandate violates the Equal Protection Clause because migrants who cross the southern border unlawfully are not required to get vaccinated.
“There can be no serious or scientific discussion about containing the spread of COVID-19 that doesn’t begin at our southern border,” said Brnovich.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates 54% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.