By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Indiana Republicans are voicing strong opposition to President Joe Biden’s upcoming mandate requiring all workers with companies of more than 100 be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19.
The OSHA emergency temporary standard (ETS) will be published Friday, Nov. 5, triggering the countdown toward a Jan. 4 deadline in which mandatory weekly testing begins for employers that choose to allow employees this option.
Employers could face a fine up as much as $14,000 for violations.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced plans Thursday, Nov. 4, that he would direct the Indiana Department of Labor to work with Attorney General Todd Rokita on a lawsuit challenging the federal government regarding the OSHA requirement.
“While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce,” Holcomb said in a prepared statement.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski contends the move is unconstitutional and called it a “vast government overreach that tramples on Americans’ individual freedoms.”
She applauded Holcomb’s move and predicted the policy “will worsen our nation’s devastating workforce shortages and supply chain bottlenecks.”
Walorski and Holcomb both issued one-paragraph statements.
Rokita held a live press conference shortly after 3 p.m. that was streamed on Facebook.
Rokita said he plans to file separate lawsuits against the OSHA requirement, and another against a mandate involving federal contract workers and a Medicaid-related mandate.
In the OSHA lawsuit, he said the state would seek a temporary injunction to halt the mandate.
He said the timing of such a move is especially egregious because it’s happening at the same time as hiring challenges, rising prices and a supply chain crisis.
“Many Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying. As I drive around the state of Indiana, I’m getting told this every single day, if not every couple of hours,” Rokita said.
U.S. Sen. Mike Braun also announced he has joined 43 Senate colleagues in a resolution to challenge the vaccine mandate for businesses.
Braun said several business groups, including the National Retail Federation and the American Trucking Association, have voiced opposition to the mandate.
U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, on Facebook, called the move “the worst assault on freedom in my lifetime.”
“I promise to fight against this illegal attack on Americans’ rights,” Banks said.