(The Center Square) – Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte called President Joe Biden's sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandate 'unlawful and un-American' and vowed to protect the state's residents from what he termed "gross federal overreach."
"President Biden’s vaccination mandate is unlawful and un-American," Gianforte said on Twitter. "We are committed to protecting Montanans’ freedoms and liberties against this gross federal overreach. "
Biden announced the new mandates Thursday. Though they are expected to be challenged in court, if enacted the mandates will force millions of unvaccinated Americans to receive the vaccine, undergo weekly testing or lose their jobs.
According to the president, all private employers with 100 or more employees would be required to ensure their employees are vaccinated or get tested weekly.
The White House estimates this rule, which will be enforced by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will impact more than 80 million Americans.
Gianforte told RealClearPolitics “we are already having enough trouble getting people back to work, and here is one more thing that makes it harder.”
Businesses, nonprofits and other employers across the U.S. have been unable to fill millions of jobs in recent months, in part they say because of enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government that expired last weekend. Gianforte was one of two dozen Republican governors who opted their state out of the federally enhanced benefits before they were set to expire because he said they disincentivized people returning to the workforce.
The Montana governor also signed into law a bill that makes it illegal for private employers to require vaccines as a condition of employment, which runs counter to Biden's new executive order.
“This edict from the Biden administration is unlawful in Montana,” he told RealClearPolitics, promising to fight the mandate.
Gianforte joins Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and other Republican elected officials across the country in vowing to fight against the mandate.
"So now, President Biden’s plan is to shut down freedom,” Ducey said in a statement. “These mandates are outrageous. They will never stand up in court. We must and will push back.”