The reaction to President Biden’s sweeping vaccination mandate by members of Maine’s Congressional delegation was mixed Thursday evening, but they agreed on one thing: Americans should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The delegation’s senior member, Republican Sen. Susan Collins, said in a statement that individual employers, not the federal government, should be able to impose a vaccine mandate on their employees as a condition of employment. Only those with a medical reason for remaining unvaccinated should be exempt, Collins said. She believes in the efficacy of vaccines, but also said that it should be a person’s doctor or health care provider offering vaccination advice, not the federal government.

“The federal government should not be dictating vaccine mandates and especially should not tie Medicare and Medicaid funding essential to the care of our seniors to vaccine mandates,” Collins said. “The plan announced today raises a number of difficult questions regarding feasibility and implementation that could cause even more confusion, chaos, and financial strain for health care providers, small businesses, schools and others.”

Independent Sen. Angus King supports the vaccination mandate while urging Americans to use “common sense” to help the country move past the COVID-19 pandemic. King, who recently contracted a breakthrough case of COVID-19, but was able to avoid a more serious illness due to the fact that he had been previously vaccinated, urged unvaccinated Americans to get the shot.

“As the threat of the delta variant overwhelms our hospitals and sets back our economic recovery, I support President Biden’s efforts to follow the science and encourage more Americans to take the common sense steps to get past this pandemic, whether that is vaccination, regular testing, or masking and social distancing,” King said in a statement.

“I urge all unvaccinated Americans to look out for yourselves and your loved ones by getting the vaccine before the virus strikes. It could save your life,” King said.


Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree said the most important challenge facing the nation is bringing the virus under control.

“We have made immense progress these last few months, but partial victory does not exist against a virus,” Pingree said in a statement. “The frustrating refusal of people to get their free vaccination has given COVID-19 new life and allowed the delta variant to spread through our communities. Hospitals are again overwhelmed and our health care system is buckling under the weight of cases.”

She commended the president for remaining “laser-focused on this task.”

“I support President Biden’s urgency and applaud his aggressive course,” she said. “It’s the right thing to do. Anything that can move our nation closer to ending this pandemic is a positive.”

Democratic Rep. Jared Golden did not respond to a reporter’s message Thursday evening but said in a statement Friday morning that he doesn’t like the mandate.

“After stating this summer that it is not the role of the federal government to institute vaccine mandates, I am frustrated that the Biden Administration has abruptly announced a vaccine and testing mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees,” Golden wrote. “While I personally think getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a good thing to do, I am generally skeptical of blanket mandates from the federal government and I am particularly concerned about the negative pressure the president’s mandate may put on an already challenging labor market in Maine.”

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