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Biden's COVID vaccine plan draws strong reaction from Minnesota representatives

President Joe Biden on Thursday, Sept. 9, announced that the federal government will now require employees at all large businesses in the country to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, or subject to weekly testing.

2021-09-09T212843Z_641967271_RC2LMP9Y12H7_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-BIDEN.JPG
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the delta variant and his administration's efforts to increase vaccinations, from the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
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ST. PAUL — After President Joe Biden announced a plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or regular testing for millions of American workers, Minnesota lawmakers on either side of the political spectrum are voicing either support, or loud dissent.

Biden announced the plan on Thursday, Sept. 9, in an address to the nation, saying that the federal government will require coronavirus immunizations or weekly testing to all American businesses which employ more than 100 workers. When it’s implemented, the mandate will be enforced by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA. Government employees will also face vaccine requirements.

In a Friday tweet , Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said Biden's new mandate "is the right move."

"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and this will help ensure we’re keeping each other safe and healthy," he wrote.

Minnesota's junior Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith on Friday tweeted in support of the move, too.

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"The CDC reported today that unvaccinated people are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 11 times more likely to die from COVID," she wrote. "So yes, I’m a strong, unequivocal supporter of President Biden’s vaccine and testing rules."

Several Minnesota Republicans, on the other hand, came out strongly against the mandate, with District 8’s U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber in a Thursday tweet calling it “tyrannical and “a complete abuse of power.”

“Medical decisions are personal, to be made between an individual and their doctor,” he wrote. “Joe Biden along with his army of unelected federal bureaucrats have absolutely no right to trample over workers’ rights, medical freedom and individual liberty.”

District 1’s U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn in a Friday tweet referred to the mandate as “a total abuse of power that relies on force and coercion.”

“This mandate IS a direct assault on freedom and an attempt by this administration to gain more control over Americans’ lives,” he continued. “Biden has failed to ‘shut down the virus’ and is resorting to authoritarianism and tyranny.”

Across the aisle, District 3’s U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat, signaled his support for Biden’s announcement, tweeting that unvaccinated Americans eligible for the vaccine are “a link in the covid (sic) life chain, and a threat to public health/liberty.”

“If you live in the woods and don’t want a vaccine, that’s your prerogative,” he tweeted Thursday. “But when you step foot into a store, a school, a factory, an airport, or an office, now you’re potentially compromising my freedom, my liberty, and my health.”

North Dakota to consider suing Biden administration over vaccine mandate, Gov. Burgum says Burgum, who called the proposal a "blatant federal overreach," joined South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in proclaiming on Twitter that his state will explore options for challenging the president's plan in court. 
South Dakota leaders criticize President Biden's vaccination strategy Sen. Thune called Biden's vaccine requirements for private employees the wrong strategy, and Gov. Noem threatened to sue. South Dakota continues to lag below 50% for full vaccination rate among eligible adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Mearhoff is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. You can reach her at smearhoff@forumcomm.com or 651-290-0707.
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