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Miller-Meeks joins House GOP resolution to strike Biden vaccine mandate for businesses
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COVID-19 VACCINES

Miller-Meeks joins House GOP resolution to strike Biden vaccine mandate for businesses

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Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks applauded news that Democratic President Joe Biden's administration had suspended implementation of a workplace vaccination mandate.

Miller-Meeks earlier on Wednesday had joined more than 150 fellow House GOP members in filing a formal challenge seeking to nullify the vaccine-or-test rule.

"I have been calling for this mandate to be stopped since it was introduced, and I was proud to help introduce a resolution to block it from going into effect earlier today," Miller-Meeks tweeted.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday it will suspend "all activities related to the implementation and enforcement" vaccine-or-test rule in the wake of federal appeals court ruling last week that temporarily halted the requirement that employers with more than 100 employees require workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or face regular testing.

Unvaccinated workers would be required to wear a face mask on the job, beginning Dec. 6.

OSHA said it was suspending moving ahead with the emergency rule "pending future developments in the litigation.”

Iowa joined 10 other states earlier this month in filing a lawsuit against the Biden administration to challenge the new vaccine requirement for workplaces that employ more than 100 employees, asserting the authority to compel vaccinations lies with states, not the federal government.

Biden administration officials have cited mandates as effective in boosting vaccination rates, in the hopes of increasing the stagnating national rate.

The vaccinate-or-test requirement is estimated to impact more than 84 million workers.

Employers that violate the rule can face fines of up to $13,653 per violation for serious violations and up to $136,532 for willful or repeated violations.

Although fully vaccinated and having administered vaccines in all 24 counties in southeast Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, Miller-Meeks, who operated a private ophthalmology practice in West Burlington and served as director of the Iowa Department of Public Health under former Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, said in a statement, "For months I have said that getting a COVID-19 vaccine should be a choice, not a requirement of employment."

"Businesses across the country are already seeing the real impacts of labor shortages, supply-chain issues and inflation; they don't need more government intervention," Miller-Meeks, of Ottumwa, said. "The government should provide the resources and information needed to help Americans make an informed decision that is best for them and the families, not creating new mandates."

With narrow Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, the resolution is expected to fail, but the vote could prove difficult for vulnerable incumbents up for reelection in 2022, as The Hill reported.

Iowa Republican U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson and Randy Feenstra also signed as co-sponsors of the resolution.

Miller-Meeks on Wednesday also joined Iowa Democratic U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne to introduce bipartisan legislation that would extend a federal deadline for health care providers to use federal dollars to care for patients and protect workers.

"We must ensure that providers have all of the tools at their disposal to keep Americans healthy," Miller-Meeks said in a statement. "Having the flexibility necessary to use all of the COVID-19 relief funds made available to them is a critical part of this goal."

Axne added: "I’m pleased that (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) is currently working to get $17 billion in (Provider Relief Fund) assistance out the door. However, I believe more must be done to ensure those working every day against COVID-19 are prepared to treat cases and accommodate patients."

Echoing Miller-Meeks, Axne said the bill would ensure hospitals have the funds to protect their workers, treat patients and prepare for the potential rise in hospitalizations stemming from the flu and COVID-19 this winter.

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