Republican officials around the country are testing a creative mechanism to build loyalty with unvaccinated Americans while undermining Biden administration mandates: unemployment benefits.
Driving the news: Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have changed their unemployment insurance rules to allow workers who are fired or quit over vaccine mandates to receive benefits.
The big picture: Extending unemployment benefits to the unvaccinated is just the latest in a series of proposals aligning the GOP with people who won’t get a COVID shot.
- Republicans see a prime opportunity to rally their base ahead of the midterms. No matter how successful their individual efforts, the campaign is a powerful messaging weapon.
Details: Nine GOP-controlled states have passed laws requiring exemptions for the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, or banning private companies from requiring vaccination altogether, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.
- Several states have made it as easy as possible for workers to claim exemptions, allowing them to opt-out on philosophical grounds or requiring businesses to accept all requests for religious or medical exemptions without proof.
- Legal uncertainty created by a wide variety of new vaccine exemptions in Florida — including for past COVID-19 infections and “anticipated future pregnancy” — prompted Disney World to suspend its vaccine mandate on Tuesday.
In Congress, Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) is leading a formal challenge against the federal vaccine mandate using the Congressional Review Act, the official process for Congress to eliminate an executive branch rule.
- The resolution is “guaranteed a vote on the Senate floor,” according to Braun’s office, which could come as early as December.
- At least 20 bills have been introduced to chip away at Biden’s mandates.
The backdrop: On Sept. 8, President Biden announced a new rule requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to implement vaccine mandates, affecting roughly 80 million private-sector workers, as well as millions of federal workers and contractors.