GOP demands Biden stop 'bullying' airlines with vaccine mandate, says taxpayers 'saved' industry
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FIRST ON FOX: Top GOP House lawmakers on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee called on President Biden Thursday to reverse his COVID-19 mandates and warned it could have adverse effects on the airline industry.
In a letter obtained by Fox News to the president, ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., and Aviation Subcommittee ranking member Garret Graves, R-La., expressed “serious concerns” over White House pressure on U.S. airlines.
“The administration’s decision to target passenger air carrier employees for COVID-19 vaccine mandates and encourage their firing should they not comply has no basis in any COVID-related statute passed by Congress,” the pair wrote.
The letter comes after reports surfaced last week suggesting the White House was putting added pressure on top airlines to enforce a vaccine mandate for all employees.
Last month, the president signed an executive order requiring all workers in the executive branch to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
But in addition, Biden signed an order that requires businesses with more than 100 workers to mandate coronavirus vaccinations.
Most federal employees will be required to be vaccinated by Nov. 22, while government contractors will have until Dec. 8 to get shots or face being terminated.
Businesses with 100 employees or more are still waiting for rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) before vaccine mandates on private companies can be officially enforced.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients reportedly met with officials from top airlines like Delta, American and Southwest last week to push them to also roll out mandates for all employees by Dec. 8.
“This unilateral mandate and arbitrary deadline will serve only to disrupt airline operations and increase the likelihood for canceled flights, upsetting holiday plans for thousands of Americans, many of whom have not seen their families since the start of the pandemic,” the pair said.
The congressmen took further issue with the potential for mass firings if airline workers refuse to get vaccinated.
The transportation committee members pointed to the “hundreds” of United Airlines employees who have been terminated just months after Congress spent billions to keep their jobs afloat during the pandemic.
“Congress, recognizing that a thriving airline industry is vital to the economy and national defense of the United States, provided approximately $54 billion in passenger air carrier employee support since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said, adding it was an unfair standard to hold airlines to.
“Despite the scientific evidence that air travel is extremely safe, your administration is choosing to bully airlines into firing unvaccinated employees while giving a free pass to other modes of transportation like public transit, which received $70 billion in COVID relief funding from Congress,” the pair wrote.
The transportation committee ranking members urged Biden to drop the “coercive and unlawful vaccination schemes” aimed at private companies and instead work with Congress and private industries to end the coronavirus pandemic.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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