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Weekly Column: Let's Do Away With Federal Overreach--Vaccine Mandates A Good Place To Start

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

One of my priorities as U.S. Senator representing the great people of Idaho has been to prevent federal overreach into Idahoans’ right to be left alone.  From navigating our waterways to navigating ever-advancing technologies, banking services and so much more, opportunities for the federal government to encroach into our lives seem to abound.  Federal vaccine mandates are a prime example.  I have joined with Idahoans, fellow senators and others to help bring infringements to light and end them.  While we make progress in some areas, we must keep the pressure on in others. 

Federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates are an area where we are keeping the pressure on and making progress in rolling back the overreach.  I have received the vaccine, and encourage people to consider it.  But, this is a matter of individual, personal choice, and I have serious concerns about the Administration’s sweeping, one-size-fits-all vaccination mandates.  Therefore, I have joined more than a dozen, and counting, efforts to oppose vaccine mandates being imposed on:

  • Our nation’s servicemembers;
  • Federal workers and federal contractors;
  • Health care workers;
  • Children at schools, early childhood development facilities and Head Start facilities;
  • Essential workers, including truck drivers;
  • Employees at private businesses;
  • Outfitters and guides;
  • Travelers and more. 

This effort has included introducing and supporting legislation, filing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court and contacting the Biden Administration with specific concerns. 

Similarly, I have backed efforts opposing federal mask mandates.  I applaud the recent Florida district court ruling that struck down travel mask mandates, an arbitrary requirement that made less sense as time went on. 

I also continue to stand firm against federal overreach jeopardizing western water law.  I have backed multiple pieces of legislation and other efforts to codify the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule finalized by the Trump Administration that gives states rightful primacy over water law, as opposed to the Obama-era WOTUS rule, and now the Biden Administration’s new rule, which is a federal seizure of states’ and private property rights. 

As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I worked to protect taxpayers from the Biden Administration’s aggressive surveillance banking scheme that would force financial institutions to hand over your banking details, on accounts with as little as $600, to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an audit assessment.  Forcing community banks and credit unions to participate in an indiscriminate data collection dragnet that mostly targets and snoops on middle-income law-abiding taxpayers is a proposal I have, and will continue to, fiercely oppose. 

The IRS also raised red flags about the protection of confidential taxpayer information and fundamental civil liberties when it announced an effort to bolster data security by requiring taxpayers to submit a trove of personal information to a third party.  Such information included requiring all IRS online accounts to upload a “selfie” to be used to extract “biometric information” from users for purposes of creating and storing a type of permanent digital fingerprint.  I immediately raised concerns with the IRS, and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig has since announced the agency is pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.  I continue to push back against federal requirements of unprecedented levels of confidential, personal data.

While it may appear we are pushing a heavy cart overflowing with heaping mounds of federal paperwork up a hill and getting nowhere, we are making great progress on a number of fronts.  Idahoans’ voices in identifying problems and advancing solutions are key to progress.  We have our work cut out for us, but we can continue to chip away at federal overreach and give individual liberty more room to grow.

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