Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R) introduced legislation Tuesday that would exempt essential workers from losing their jobs over President Joe Biden's executive orders mandating the shots for most U.S. employees in the public and private sector.
The Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act is co-sponsored by GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe (OK), Bill Haggerty (TN), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Mike Braun (IN), Tommy Tuberville (AL) and Ron Johnson (WI).
"Our essential workers are true heroes," Blackburn told Fox News. "For over 18 months, essential workers showed up to serve and protect their communities. Businesses across the country are desperate for workers and we are in the midst of a supply chain crisis. There are more than 10.4 million open jobs across the country, and now President Biden wants to fire even more workers. Getting vaccinated is a choice that should be made between a patient and their doctor. No one should be forced by Joe Biden to be fired or get jabbed."
The bill would offer an exemption for all essential workers from coronavirus vaccine requirements implemented by the federal government, a public or private federal contractor, a private entity receiving federal funds or a public entity receiving funding under the COVID-19 CARES Act.
The legislation describes an essential worker as a person who a "relevant State, Indian Tribe, or territory deemed essential during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic;" or "who was exempt from any restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic imposed by a relevant State, Indian Tribe, or territory."
It has received endorsements from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Border Patrol Council, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Association of Small Trucking Companies and many other workers groups.
This comes after Biden signed an executive order last month mandating vaccinations for all federal workers. And through a separate order, federal contractors are now required to mandate vaccinations and ensure workers have been fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.
The president also announced in September that employers with at least 100 employees will be required to mandate that their workers get vaccinated or undergo weekly coronavirus testing.