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Hern, Lankford Rail Against White House Vaccine-Or-Test Plan For Businesses

Rep. Kevin Hern
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) at his Tulsa office on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, giving remarks opposed to White House COVID-19 policy.

Oklahoma Republican lawmakers are speaking out against a recent plan announced by the White House to require employers with more than 100 workers to test unvaccinated employees for COVID-19 weekly.

"Like most instances in a free market, small businesses have been leading the way in creativity, ingenuity, innovation, and overall best practices during this COVID era," said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) at a Thursday press conference at his Tulsa office. "[President Biden’s] executive order will only hinder small business’s productivity and wreak havoc on the workforce during an economic time where workers are already scarce."

Hern said he was considering legislation aimed at stopping the policy.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday, Oklahoma junior Sen. James Lankford also assailed the policy.

"The American people do not work for the President of the United States, and companies of 100 people or more, their chief executive, their leadership does not work for the President of the United States," Lankford said.

Lankford said he and his family have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but that Oklahomans and Americans should not feel they have to be. 

Lankford's primary challenger in his 2022 reelection campaign, Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer of Tulsa's Sheridan Church, made national news earlier this week when the Washington Post reported he would sign so-called religious vaccine exemption notes for individuals who donate to the church. Lahmeyer has said he has not been vaccinated and has repeatedly promoted COVID-related misinformaton including the false claims that the livestock dewormer and human antiparasitic drug ivermectin and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine can successfully treat COVID-19.

Biden announced the policy earlier this month as part of a larger plan to combat the pandemic. 

"My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We've made vaccinations free, safe and convenient," the president said. "We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing."

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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