“In the coming weeks, members of this body will be asked a very simple question, whether on the vaccine mandate or the [so-called] Build Back Better legislation: ‘Do you believe the federal government should have more control over Americans’ lives?’ Their answers are crucial for the future of our country.”
WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today delivered remarks on the Senate floor expressing his support for a resolution that would eliminate President Joe Biden’s regulation requiring that, in order to work, all employees of private employers with 100 or more employees must be vaccinated or subject to at-least-weekly COVID testing. Hagerty also explained how the vaccine mandate—like so many other of the left’s policies— is just about power, controlling more and more aspects of everyday Americans’ lives, and, in so doing, eroding Americans’ personal autonomy.
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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:
On September 9, President Biden announced that his Department of Labor, through OSHA, would issue a vaccine mandate covering more than 80 million, privately-employed Americans. Violators would be subject to significant financial penalties.
This mandate makes medical decisions for much of the American people—with the stroke of a pen. And it immediately struck me as severe federal overreach. Therefore, the next day, I wrote to the Secretary of Labor to confirm that he would submit this mandate to Congress for review under the Congressional Review Act.
In that letter, I noted that Americans’ elected representatives should review an order threatening the livelihoods of many of their constituents.
I’m pleased to join Senator Braun—and a majority of my Senate colleagues—in supporting this resolution to disapprove President Biden’s vaccine mandate.
Regarding the mandate itself, I want to first say that I support the vaccine—which was a product of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed. I visited with my doctor and made the personal choice to get the vaccine. I have continually encouraged Tennesseans to do the same.
But the decision to get the vaccine is a personal one. It’s a decision that each American should be allowed to make in consultation with his or her doctor—not under federal threat of job loss and financial penalty. This mandate improperly puts the federal government between Americans and their doctors, and between Americans and their jobs.
Tens of millions of “essential workers” were asked to risk their health for the good of the country during the pandemic. They courageously responded to this call. Many of them contracted the virus. And yet, now we’re telling these heroes—from frontline health care workers to the employees who made sure we had access to groceries and essential goods—that they’ll be fired unless they comply with the vaccine mandate? They deserve better.
Not only is this vaccine mandate wrong, but it was promptly declared unlawful by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Other Biden Administration vaccine mandates are meeting similar fates in the courts. Yet, the Biden Administration refuses to relent or reevaluate the damage it’s doing.
Sadly, the Biden Administration’s use of federal government power to control the American people’s lives is not limited to vaccine mandates. It’s a basic element of their strategy to remake America.
Don’t believe me? Just look at Democrats’ so-called “Build Back Better” proposal.
The Biden Administration is marketing this legislation to transform America by using a cartoon depicting a mom and her son, and the government programs on which they would depend under this plan, from the very beginning of their lives to the very end.
That’s the definition of cradle-to-grave, big-government dependency.
And that’s the stated goal of Democrats’ legislation.
This legislation federalizes preschool and child care, which will crowd out community and faith-based providers and put the federal government in charge of what your children are taught during their most formative years.
If this was about children, then parents would be allowed to choose the preschool or child care provider that’s best for their children. But instead it’s about control, so the government will ultimately decide which preschools and which child care providers survive.
The “Build Back Better” legislation increases—by 10 times—penalties on private employers for violating the vaccine mandate. Now, a “willful” violation can result in a $700,000-dollar fine, and must result in a minimum fine of $50,000 dollars. In other words, small businesses that fail to comply face financial ruin.
And when it comes to employment, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who work in the oil-and-gas industry, the Build Back Better plan delivers $555-billion-dollars-worth of crushing Green New Deal mandates and tax increases. It replaces these good-paying jobs with $8 billion dollars for the Civilian Climate Corps, a taxpayer-funded climate police.
Once your job is gone or your business is closed, the Build Back Better proposal offers government welfare programs with no work requirements. This attacks the dignity of work and right of self-determination that underscores what it means to be American. Again, more government control.
And, by providing $80 billion in increased IRS funding—a staggering six times the annual IRS budget—the Biden Administration is planning to wring an extra $400 billion dollars out of the American people to pay for all of this big government. With everyone from small business owners to grandparents now facing regular audits and IRS spying on their bank accounts, the government will have much greater control over how Americans earn and spend their money.
In sharp contrast, Republicans want to put Americans, not the federal government, in control of their lives.
We want to strengthen the American Dream so that Americans can free themselves from government dependency.
We oppose big-government socialism that imposes greater federal control over Americans’ lives.
In the coming weeks, members of this body will be asked a very simple question, whether on the vaccine mandate or the Build Back Better legislation: Do you believe the federal government should have more control over Americans’ lives? Their answers are crucial for the future of our country.
Is cradle-to-grave government dependency something to help Americans avoid, or something to strive for?
Should personal health care decisions be made by Americans, or by government agencies?
Do parents know what’s best for their children, or should bureaucrats and teachers unions decide?
Are you willing to eliminate good-paying energy jobs?
Should the IRS have more power to spy on the American people?
Over the next few weeks, all of us must decide what kind of country we will have.
My hope is that we will preserve and strengthen the American Dream, by empowering Americans to determine their own futures, to climb the ladder of success, and to free themselves from government dependency—not treat them with a lack of dignity that suggests the very best they can hope for is a life managed by the federal government.
The first opportunity to provide an answer is the upcoming vote on this resolution disapproving President Biden’s vaccine mandate. I’ve been pleased to work with Senator Braun to bring this resolution to the floor, and I urge all of my colleagues to support its adoption.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.