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Mandate turns employers into ‘vaccine police,’ Kemp warns

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 10:37 AM EDT
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Calling President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for federal contractors a “nightmare” that will cripple Georgia’s economy, Gov. Brian Kemp outlined on Wednesday morning why he and other state officials filed a lawsuit to fight it.

Georgia was joined by several other states in filing the lawsuit in Augusta federal court on Friday.

Augusta University plays a prominent part in the state’s allegations of how the mandate could hurt the state.

The lawsuit cites as a particular concern that not only are contractors mandated to be vaccinated, but also anyone else at the location who may have contact with them. This could cost AU millions in federal research contracts if it can’t get all employees fully vaccinated by the Dec. 8 deadline, the lawsuit alleges.

“Forget the legal part of this — think of the nightmare universities have had to go through to get to this point,” Kemp said at a news conference where he was joined by other top state officials.

Calling the mandate an “unprecedented and unconscionable use of power by a president,” Attorney General Chris Carr said at the news conference that Biden cannot use the federal contracting power to run state universities.

READ THE GEORGIA LAWSUIT:

Kemp said that in addition to affecting the state’s universities, the mandate could cause locally owned construction companies to stop working and could impact critical food service industries, Kemp said.

“They already don’t have enough people” as it is, he said, referencing the pervasive labor shortage.

Mandates like the one in Biden’s executive order “only further divide and politicize” the country, the governor said.

Kemp said Georgians have “stepped up to the plate” to get past the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, and they didn’t do it because of a mandate.

Carr emphasized that the lawsuit isn’t about the effectiveness of the vaccine but “based solely on the rule of law.”

He said the Constitution has checks and balances to ensure that states have the power to do what’s best for their citizens, not to be forced into a “one size fits all” approach.

“The president of the United States has overstepped his authority,” Carr said.

Carr and Kemp both spoke of the burden the mandate will place on employers in Georgia.

The mandate will not lead to more vaccinations but more economic upheaval as the nation heads into the important holiday season, Carr said.

Kemp cited the threats of inflation and the supply chain crisis as delicate situations the mandate could exacerbate.

“This Joe Biden mandate is a recipe for financial disaster,” he said, adding that it turns employers into “the vaccine police.”

At the news conference, state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black cited concerns that meat and other food inspections might not be able to take place because the mandate affects those who have contact with federal inspectors.

He said this places in peril the food supply, which the pandemic has shown is “paramount” to security.

“If the rule of law prevails, Georgia’s economy will be stable,” he said.

The Georgia lawsuit is one of three filed Friday against the Biden administration over the mandate. In all, 18 states are involved.

The other two lawsuits include one filed by the state of Texas and another filed in U.S. District Court in Missouri by the attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The Associated Press contributed to this report