For Republicans in Texas, three special legislative sessions were apparently not enough. And now a growing number of Republican lawmakers are letting Greg Abbott know that they want a fourth session to officially ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
At least two dozen Republicans in the state house have called on Abbott to convene a fourth session3. Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller has also called on Abbott to convene a fourth session to curb vaccine mandates. “The absurd reaction to the latest COVID-19 variant by the federal government and other governmental entities requires us to protect the rights, liberties, and jobs of our fellow Texans,” said Miller to the Wilson County News.
The COVID-19 vaccine mandate has been potent campaign fodder for Republicans. Don Huffines, who has been waging a stealth campaign that has been moving Abbott further to the right, took credit when Abbott announced his intent to ban private businesses from implementing a vaccine mandate in October. Still, Huffines would like to see a session dedicated to terminating any vaccine mandate in the state.
Currently, all of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates issued by the Biden Administration have been halted through various courts. On Tuesday, the Texas Workforce Commission issued a letter clarifying that under Abbott’s Executive Order GA-48 a Texas employer cannot enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on any employee that qualifies for a religious, medical, or personal exemption.
“While I encourage Texans to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it will always be voluntary, and never forced, in Texas, and we are committed to ensuring Texans’ livelihoods are not jeopardized by federal overreach,” said Abbott in a statement.
Since the start of the pandemic, over 74,000 Texans have died from COVID-19. Many hospital regions in the state, including Amarillo, are warning about a potential catastrophe in the event of a fourth wave.