The Biden administration is now telling all federal employees and onsite contractors that they must show proof of vaccination or subject themselves to weekly Covid testing. The announcement marks a sharp turn in rhetoric for the administration that initially claimed it did not intend to endorse vaccine mandates.
The move is likely to push more of the private sector into also implementing vaccine mandates for employees which some businesses and colleges have already begun doing.
The Hill reports:
The federal government employs over 4 million people. It’s unclear what percentage of the workforce is currently not vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I don’t have that number to share with you at that time,” White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Thursday when asked for an estimate on how many federal government employees the administration believes are not vaccinated.
Biden’s plans have triggered some pushback. The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents 30,000 federal law enforcement officers across agencies, issued a statement ahead of Biden’s speech stating that a vaccine mandate would represent a civil rights violation.
“FLEOA fully supports individuals who voluntarily choose to be vaccinated, agree that it is safe and the most effective means of combatting the pandemic, and encourage our members to be vaccinated,” Larry Cosme, the association’s president, said in a statement. “However, forcing people to undertake a medical procedure is not the American way and is a clear civil rights violation no matter how proponents may seek to justify it.”
President Biden is attempting to tread carefully around the issue of mask mandates, a hot-button issue across the country, by clarifying that his announcement does not equate to a mandate. Instead, it falls just short and attempts to add enough hoops for government employees to jump through that they are coerced into “voluntarily” getting the shot.
Earlier in the week, the Justice Department issued an opinion stating that vaccine mandates do not violate federal law.