GOP Seethes at Biden Mandate, Even in States Requiring Other Vaccines
6 min read
fairly difficult
WASHINGTON — Like other Republican governors around the country, Tate Reeves of Mississippi reacted angrily to the coronavirus vaccine mandates President Joe...
A teenager receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Detroit on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. (Emily Elconin/The New York Times)

Biden imposed on private businesses. Declaring the move "terrifying," he wrote on Twitter, "This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants."

There is a deep inconsistency in that argument. Mississippi has some of the strictest vaccine mandates in the nation, which have not drawn opposition from most of its elected officials. Not only does it require children to be vaccinated against measles, mumps and seven other diseases to attend school, but it goes a step further than most states by barring parents from claiming "religious, philosophical or conscientious" exemptions.

Resistance to vaccine mandates was once a fringe position in both parties, more the realm of misinformed celebrities than mainstream political thought. But the fury over Biden's mandates shows how a once-extreme stance has moved to the center of the Republican Party. The governors' opposition reflects the anger and fear about the COVID-19 vaccines among constituents now central to their base, while ignoring long-standing policy and legal precedent in favor of similar vaccination requirements.

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"Republicans care about getting beyond this pandemic every bit as much as Democrats do," said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. But, he added, "politicians are certainly happy to exploit this issue for political gain, which is why I think the Republican governors are up in arms."

Biden also imposed vaccine mandates on federal workers and many health care workers. But Republican outrage is really boiling over his plan to require all private-sector businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for their workforces.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas called the president's move "a power grab." Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina…
Sheryl Gay Stolberg
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