Republicans and conservative media figures are calling for open revolt against President Joe Biden's vaccine mandates.
The president said his patience was wearing thin with vaccine-hesitant Americans, as the coronavirus spreads throughout much of the country and overwhelms hospitals, and Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will require millions of federal and private-sector workers to be inoculated or face weekly testing -- which many conservatives seized on as a political issue, reported Axios.
"Every Republican in the country — especially those running to the right in primaries — is salivating over Joe Biden [igniting] the vax debate," said one top House Republican aide. "Republicans think that he's made even pro-vax conservatives into 'anti-vax mandate' Americans."
Several Republican governors already say they'll challenge the order in court, and #IwillNOTComply and other related hashtags trended Thursday evening as conservative lawmakers, candidates and broadcasters railed against a mandate they say is "unconstitutional."
"This is blatantly unconstitutional," tweeted Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL). "The decision to get vaccinated lies between you and your doctor - NOT the federal government. We must fight back against medical tyranny that dangerously violates Americans' individual freedoms."
"Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance, who's running for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in Ohio, called for "mass civil disobedience" in response to Biden's order.
"I have a simple message for America's business community," Vance wrote. "DO NOT COMPLY."
An official close to Biden said the White House understood there would be "strong backlash," but they're ready for the fight.
"Unless someone took this on, we'd be in a pandemic forever," that official said.
"Biden beat Trump by promising strong action based on science, he can't let Abbott/DeSantis block tough action," the official added. "Basically Biden is staring down Southern governors (and some Northern allies). ... Is America divided? Yes. But Biden is uniting the 75 percent vs. the 25 percent that is in opposition. That is unity politics in a divided nation — unifying the overwhelming majority threatened by an unruly minority."