CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice said he opposes Pres. Joe Biden’s order to require larger businesses to mandate vaccinations for employees.
“Let private businesses do what they want to do,” he said. “I don’t support it.”
Biden said on Thursday all businesses with 100 or more employees must require vaccinations or be tested weekly for COVID, based on the rapid spread of the more contagious and more dangerous Delta variant and the effectiveness of the vaccines.
The order will impact about 100 million people.
But Justice said that is not the right approach.
“I do not think we ought to be mandating and requiring vaccinations,” Justice said.
He also said he opposes some West Virginia legislators who are calling for a session to pass a mandate against Biden’s mandate.
“We should not be making mandates against mandates,” he said, adding that private businesses should be able to make those decisions for themselves without government interference.
However, Justice signed executive orders last year mandating private businesses require masks for employees and customers as well as many, like restaurants, to stop allowing customers inside.
Justice did say he may be on board with a plan to offer incentives to businesses to get their employees vaccinated.
Governors should be “cheerleaders” for the vaccine, he said, and urge people to get vaccinated “without qualifiers.”
“That does not mean we have to mandate anything,” he said. “But we have to be the biggest cheerleaders (for the vaccine).”
Justice said he is “puzzled” by the direction the Biden Administration is taking with the “overreach” on the vaccine as well as other issues like the Afghanistan evacuation mistakes, the crisis at the southern border and the proposed $3.5 trillion in “social spending.”
“Without any question, I stand steadfast in the fact they should absolutely pass the infrastructure bill,” he said. “That bill will help West Virginia in many ways.”
Those ways include money for highways like the King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway and Corridor H, as well as broadband and water and sewer projects.
Justice said he wants to see those highway projects finished and open the state up to the world to “bring more and more great opportunities to West Virginia.”
“I am rock solid we should pass that,” he said. The proposed $1.2 trillion bill has $3.5 billion earmarked for West Virginia roads.
However, the $3.5 trillion bill Democrats, and in particular House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are pushing is full of “so much pork and junk it is unbelievable,” he said. “I am not for just throwing money away.”
Justice said he is sure there are social programs that are needed to make things better, but money should not be “thrown in every direction.”
The infrastructure bill should not be held up for the social bill, he said, referring to Pelosi and some other Democrats wanting to tie them together.
“It is wrong. We do not need that.”
Justice said he hopes the Biden Administration “gets its act together.”
“If we don’t watch out we are going to implode ourselves.”
Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org.