Just hours after both New Hampshire U.S. Senators voted to uphold enforcement of federal vaccine mandates on private companies and their employees, Rep. Chris Pappas said, “I don’t think we’re there yet” on backing President Joe Biden’s proposed vax requirements.
On Thursday night, Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen joined their fellow Democrats in blocking an amendment that would have banned the federal government from funding enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates. The amendment failed 48-50 on a straight party-line vote. (Two Republicans didn’t vote.)
Friday morning, Pappas announced plans to seek a third term in Congress. WMUR asked him about the mandate issue, specifically the attempt by the Biden administration to use the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to impose vaccine-or test requirements on workers at private businesses with at least 100 employees.
“What I’ve been calling for is more testing capability, clearer guidelines, and more consideration given to businesses that are moving in the right direction,” Pappas said. “But I don’t think we’re there yet.
“The issue is tied up in court and we have to see where it’s going to come out. But unless we have testing capacity and businesses know that they’re either going to have that capability on-site or know they can access it, it seems to me to be an unworkable proposal.”
This puts Pappas at odds with the rest of the delegation, who are strong supporters of federal vaccine rules.
“This is an appropriate part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to follow the science and save lives,” Hassan said of Biden’s mandate policy. “Throughout our country’s history, there have been vaccine requirements for people to participate in certain things, and individuals have made their own decisions based on those requirements.”
And Rep. Annie Kuster says policies like Biden’s mandate are “why we do not have diphtheria, pertussis and measles anymore,” though these diseases are very different from coronaviruses. “Many people have thanked President Biden” for his mandates, Kuster added.
Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support vaccinations and reject the anti-vaccine stance of extremists. At the same time, voters are leery of government mandates that override personal choice.
A recent Scott Rasmussen poll found 48 percent of voters approve of the Biden administration’s attempt to mandate COVID vaccines for all workers at companies with more than 100 workers, while 46 percent oppose it. And a Yahoo News/YouGov poll found independents are nearly evenly split on the mandate issue as well.
Mandate policies are popular among Democratic voters. But if independents determine the outcome of next year’s elections, Hassan and Kuster may not benefit from their aggressive pro-mandate stances.
Ironically, the new First Congressional District map, which creates a GOP-leaning district, may not have enough Democrats to help Pappas overcome the political math, even with his opposition to government action. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose vaccine mandates by a 40-point margin or more in recent polls.