JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri's House Judiciary Committee hosted a public hearing Wednesday morning at the Capitol regarding the federal vaccine mandate issued last week by President Biden.
The new requirements could apply to as many as 100 million Americans, including 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.
Representative David Evans led the discussion with several witnesses expressing their support for the mandate or frustrations against it.
Ray McCarty was one of the people who gave comment to the committee. He is the president of Associated Industries of Missouri and stated he is against any federal mandate.
Nikki Strong from the Missouri Health Care Association also spoke at the stand. She mentioned at the hearing that 40% of Missouri's health care staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Strong said when the testing mandate came, some employees left the job over the mandate. She said the health care industry cannot shut down and that there needs to be enough staff to help around the clock.
"The state cannot afford to lose more facilities," Strong said.
Before the committee, protestors held signs outside the Capitol against the new federal vaccine mandate. The protestors held signs that read “Stop COVID mandates” and “Free speech not free shots.”
Several Missouri lawmakers spoke at the hearing, including Rep. Nick Schroer who is against the new mandate. “I believe we must take action now. This order is frightening,” Schroer said.
“As we have seen this past week from the Biden administration is anti-liberty, anti-American, and in my belief unconstitutional”, Schroer said.
Senator Rick Brattin, along with 15 other senators, signed a letter just a few days ago explaining the reasons why the new mandate won’t work, including that there is “nowhere in the Constitution is the President given the authority to unilaterally force private businesses and private citizens to get vaccinated.”
Rep. John Wiemann from St. Charles County also spoke at the hearing. He stated his disproval in the Biden’s administration vaccine mandate. “I support the Governor with opposing this mandate,” Wiemann said.
The special session came after Missouri's Republican House leaders submitted a letter to President Biden, asking him to provide legal justification for the proposed mandate for private businesses.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo wrote the letter, which was signed by more than 50 Republicans, including Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann and Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher.
The letter describes the proposed mandate as "blatantly unconstitutional," citing the U.S. Constitution's limit of federal power to enact laws to provide for the public health. The Constitution grants this authority to the states.
If President Biden is unable to provide legal justification for the mandate, Vescovo demands in the letter that the mandate be rescinded immediately.
The hearing lasted for an hour and a half before it was adjourned. Only one person spoke during the public comment section.