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Republican lawmakers accuse White House of pressuring airlines on vaccines

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A traveler walks previous a Christmas tree as he makes his method via the Ronald Reagan Washington Nationwide Airport, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photograph

Oct 7 (Reuters) – Two senior U.S. lawmakers on Thursday accused the White Home of pressuring U.S. airways to require their workers be vaccinated for COVID-19 by a Dec. 8 deadline for federal contractors or face firing.

Consultant Sam Graves, prime Republican on the Home Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Garrett Graves, senior Republican on the aviation subcommittee, wrote President Joe Biden on Thursday, saying it “is unacceptable that your administration is utilizing the specter of contractual measures as a coercion to single out American employees in an important nationwide business.”

The lawmakers, who aren’t associated, cited a Reuters story reporting that White Home COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients had referred to as the chief executives of American Airways , Delta Air Strains and Southwest Airways on Sept. 30, urging them to comply with United Airways’ lead in mandating worker vaccines.

Zients on Wednesday praised airlinesfor mandating vaccines. “Vaccination necessities work. New knowledge reinforces that reality every day,” he stated.

Three of the airways and the White Home declined remark. Southwest didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Each Southwest Airways and American Airways have since introduced they’ll meet the Dec. 8 deadline for federal contractors. Delta Chief Govt Ed Bastian stated on Sunday that the airline has not madea resolution.

President was in Illinois to tout vaccines and praised United’s vaccine mandate after assembly with United CEO Scott Kirby.

The letter famous Congress since March 2020 awarded U.S. airways a complete of $54 billion in taxpayer funding for payroll prices, which solely ended final week.

“We strongly urge you to rethink this ill-conceived mandate which can end result within the termination of workers whose jobs had been saved during the last 18 months at huge taxpayer expense,” they wrote.

“This unilateral mandate and arbitrary deadline will serve solely to disrupt airline operations and enhance the probability of canceled flights.”

Biden signed an govt order final month requiring federal contractors to mandate worker vaccines, with the White Home later setting the Dec. 8 deadline.

A rising variety of federal contractors are opting to conform, with IBM asserting Thursday it might mandate worker vaccines.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Modifying by Invoice Berkrot

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