Gov. Kemp calls federal vaccine mandate 'unlawful overreach'

Gov. Brian Kemp said he took part in a call with other Republican governors Friday as they try to organize a legal challenge to the latest vaccine mandate by the Biden Administration.

"It's not just going to be us," said Gov. Kemp.  "I mean, there's a lot of other states around the country that are very upset about this and you know, we're standing up and fighting back for our business owners and hardworking Georgians and hardworking Americans all over the country."

Thursday evening, President Biden addressed the country and announced the Department of Labor would develop a new emergency rule requiring companies with more than 100 employees to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

"This is not about freedom or personal choice.  It's about protecting yourself and those around you--the people you work with, the people care about, the people you love,"   said President Biden.  

Gov. Kemp described the president's words as "disappointing."

"To me it's scary that we have an American President that doesn't care about freedom and independence and liberty.  That's, to me, what this country is built on," said Gov. Kemp.  

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President Biden also pushed governors to require public school teachers and staff to get vaccinated.  The president has already made vaccines mandatory for those working in schools run by the Department of Defense.

"I'm calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff.  Some already have done so, but we need more to step up," said President Biden.  "Vaccination requirements are nothing new.  They work."

Gov. Kemp, though, said that will not happen in Georgia.

"No. We're not going to do that.  Our schools have been doing a great job of getting their teachers vaccinated.  If you'll remember many, many months ago, we prioritized teachers to be able to get the vaccine.  So, it's readily available.  They can make that decision on their own.  I know a lot of schools are incentivizing that.  But again, to mandate this and have the risk of people walking out of a classroom in the middle of the school year because they're just not going to do that because the federal government is ordering them to, to me is not worth it," said Gov. Kemp.  

Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan released a statement responding to the mandate:

"President Biden’s vaccine mandate only served to harden the partisan lines around an issue that requires all of us working together and not against one another. I believe the vaccine is safe, effective and the only real way out of this awful pandemic, but mandates have not and will not be the answer, as President Biden has previously stated before reversing course yesterday. Forcing hard-working Americans to choose between mandated personal health decisions and a paycheck will neither reduce vaccine hesitancy nor move this country in a positive direction. Let’s all work together to redouble our efforts to get more Americans vaccinated through genuine leadership not anti-business mandates."

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