The Republican National Committee said Thursday that it plans to sue the Biden administration after the president issued two sweeping executive orders that will require Covid vaccinations for as many as 100 million people in the U.S.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the mandate was "unconstitutional" in a statement.
"Joe Biden told Americans when he was elected that he would not impose vaccine mandates. He lied. Now small businesses, workers, and families across the country will pay the price," she said.
"Like many Americans, I am pro-vaccine and anti-mandate," she said. "Many small businesses and workers do not have the money or legal resources to fight Biden's unconstitutional actions and authoritarian decrees, but when his decree goes into effect, the RNC will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties."
Biden, who has been under pressure to act decisively as the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus has caused Covid cases to rise in recent weeks, announced in a speech Thursday that federal workers and contractors will be required to be vaccinated. He also announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.
Biden said in December that he would not favor a vaccination mandate, but in recent months, as vaccination numbers stalled, he has encouraged vaccination requirements in schools, workplaces and college campuses. In his speech, he sharply criticized the tens of millions of eligible people who remain unvaccinated.
"We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin," Biden said, making a direct appeal to the 80 million people who he said were still unvaccinated. "Your refusal has cost all of us."
Republican lawmakers, many of whom have resisted mask mandates and vaccinations, swiftly criticized the president.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, for instance, signaled legal action in a tweet.
"This is exactly the kind of big government overreach we have tried so hard to prevent in Arizona — now the Biden-Harris administration is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way," Ducey said. "This will never stand up in court."
He added, "We must and will push back."
Half of U.S. workers favor vaccination mandates in their own workplaces, according to an AP-NORC poll released last month, while only about a quarter oppose them.
Fifty-three percent of people in the U.S. have already been fully vaccinated, and 9 percent more have taken one shot of a two-dose regimen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Millions of the unvaccinated are young children for whom the vaccines have not yet been approved, and Biden said Thursday that only 25 percent of the eligible population is totally unvaccinated.