President Joe Biden’s announcement Thursday night that an executive order would require vaccination against COVID-19 of federal employees and vaccines or weekly testing of employees of companies with 100-plus staff met speedy return fire from opponents.
Within hours, Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, had posted a link from Fox News on her candidate Facebook page with a personal comment hinting at using the Second Amendment.
“Our founding fathers gave us tools to prepare for a day such as this...” it read.
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, also issued a release within the hour.
“I share the outrage that many Iowans have already expressed to me regarding President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate,” she said. “Doling out fines to small businesses and punishments to workers will only worsen the economic challenges we are facing. This is the wrong approach to increasing vaccinations and moving our country forward.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, issued a rebuke on his favorite platform, Twitter.
“I’ve always encouraged Iowans who are eligible to get the safe & effective COVID-19 vaccine & continue 2 encourage but it is YOUR choice I OPPOSE the heavy hand of federal govt mandating the vaccine on private biz,” he posted.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, accused Biden of choosing “coercion over transparency,” in a statement.
“The Biden administration’s decision to mandate vaccines for working Americans, without recognizing natural immunity and making exceptions for it, is an outrageous trampling of civil liberties,” he said.
Biden’s move had its supporters among Democrats.
“While we waited patiently for one out of four Americans to accept their responsibility & get vaccinated, thousands more were infected & many died. President Biden has done the right thing,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, posted on Twitter. “Refusing the COVID-19 vaccine at this point endangers innocent people, including our kids.”
Democratic leaders of the Iowa State Legislature said they were happy that at least Biden had done something to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s ongoing rebound.
“I’m glad that there’s at least finally a plan to get Iowans vaccinated in a more structured way than just crossing our fingers and hoping like our Governor (Kim Reynolds, a Republican) has done,” said Iowa House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, during a press call Friday. “There needs to be some leadership here when it comes to eradicating COVID and getting Iowa back on track.”
She also said the devil will be in the details of the enactment of Biden’s order.
“Does Iowa have the plan yet? Have they seen the plan or are we just getting political responses because it’s from a president they don’t like?” Konfrst said.
Area lawmakers discuss possible changes from redistricting
Area state lawmakers are watching their borders closely, in case they move on them during their respective states’ ongoing redistricting.
The Democratic majority in the Illinois State Legislature has approved its fourth state legislative district map of the year, following the release of data needed from the 2020 census. This map has been widely critiqued as partisan gerrymandering and already faces two lawsuits — one state, one federal.
Should those lawsuits fail, however, it could be inconvenient for Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport — who represents Jo Daviess County.
“They’ve moved my district around a little bit, which could require us to move or relocate,” he said in an interview last week. “But we’re going to reserve the right to make any changes until we get a final map. We’re pretty confident it needs to be changed again. I want to be clear: I am running for re-election. The proposed districts just may require me to relocate.”
Wisconsin Reps. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, and Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, are not expecting anything as drastic, but could see some changes due to overall population loss in Southwest Wisconsin.
“I looked at my own district. It has to grow (geographically),” Novak said. “I think Rep. Tranel’s district will have to grow. So we’ll see what it looks like.”
Iowa Rep. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, said the urban drift will likely cause some slight changes to her state’s map.
“Considering all the criteria in the law, in terms of compactness, not dividing up cities and counties in the city, I don’t think our districts are going to change dramatically,” she said. “But at least 73 Iowa counties have lost population. Those people have migrated to the urban areas. I’m speculating that you’ll see more state legislators coming from the urban areas and fewer from the rural areas, just because of how people have moved.”
Former Illinois Senator dies
Political scion and former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III, D-Illinois, died last week, at 90.
Stevenson served as one of Illinois’ senators from 1970 to 1981. Prior to that, he served in the Illinois House of Representatives and as the Illinois State Treasurer.
In 1982, Stevenson ran for governor, losing in the closest race in state history. In his second go of it in 1986, Stevenson shed the Democratic nomination to run as an independent.
He was the son of former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson II and great-grandson of Adlai Stevenson I, who was vice president under President Grover Cleveland.
Hinson received the endorsement of Nikki Haley — former United Nations ambassador under former President Donald Trump and rumored 2024 presidential candidate — in her bid for re-election.