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Idaho House speaker vows to help block Biden’s vaccine plan; Fulcher speaks out, too

Politics

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BOISE (Idaho Stateman) — Two more Idaho lawmakers have pledged to fight a COVID-19 vaccination and testing plan unveiled by President Joe Biden last week. U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher and Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, both Republicans, issued statements on Monday bashing the policy just hours before Biden was set to arrive in Boise to visit the National Interagency Fire Center.

On Thursday, Biden announced that many employers — private-sector businesses, health care entities, federal contractors and the federal executive branch — with more than 100 employees must require COVID-19 vaccinations or conduct weekly testing for employees who refuse. The policy comes as COVID-19 cases are surging across the U.S., including in Idaho.

Bedke, a state representative from Oakley who is running for lieutenant governor, issued a statement Monday saying he will work with other state legislators to try to block the mandates. He said Biden’s plans “fly in the face of all we hold dear in Idaho.”

“This is one more example of dangerous federal encroachment in the lives of everyday Americans,” Bedke said in the statement. “For weeks, I have addressed the importance of keeping the government out of the relationship between employers and employees as much as possible. More importantly, however, is protecting the inherent value of medical decisions remaining between individuals and their medical provider.”

Bedke also suggested the Legislature could get involved. The House never formally ended its 2021 session.

Some House members said last week that they plan to reconvene in Boise.

“Many other governors and state legislatures are taking steps to block these unconstitutional mandates,” Bedke said. “As the Speaker of the House, I too will actively pursue and support any and all efforts to block this massive federal overreach.”

Fulcher, who represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District covering North and West Idaho, tweeted his criticisms shortly after 9 a.m. Monday.

“After repeatedly telling the American people that there would be no nationwide vaccine mandates, the Biden Administration has reversed course and instead embraced the notion that families and businesses cannot be trusted to make their own health decisions,” Fulcher wrote.

He called the plan “unAmerican” and said it could be “the nail in the coffin” for small businesses already languishing under a nationwide labor shortage and the effects of “draconian lockdown measures.” Idaho has not had a lockdown measure in more than a year, and Biden has not issued one for the country.

Fulcher and Bedke aren’t the first Idaho lawmakers to speak out against the policy. On Friday, Gov. Brad Little said he would explore legal options to keep the Biden mandate from affecting Idaho businesses.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is running for governor, also slammed the Biden plan last week and called on Little to “un-invite” Biden from his trip to Idaho.

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