Amid a continuing supply chain crisis, Republican senators are calling on President Joe Biden to lift his administration’s vaccine mandate on truckers crossing Canadian border.
“President Biden imposing a vaccine mandate for essential American workers trying to cross the northern border for their job, while not imposing any sort of mandate for the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants coming across the southern border is beyond hypocritical,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., the author of the letter signed by 14 GOP senators, wrote in a statement.
“The president needs to stop putting illegal immigrants over American workers.”
The letter was sent to Biden on Friday, noting there are approximately 14,000 total truck entries along the U.S.-Canada border every day, hauling more than $846 million of goods.
“We write to share our concerns with the coming vaccine mandate for essential workers at the U.S.-Canada border, which will include truck drivers,” the letter read.
“Any disruptions to the continuity of U.S.-Canada trade would likely have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond our shared border,” it added.
All essential foreign travelers in the U.S. will have to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 22, the Biden administration announced in November, extending a Nov. 8 deadline to allow truckers time to get inoculated and avoid disruptions.
“Despite the good intentions underpinning this action, we fear that the imposition of vaccination mandates as a requirement to cross the land border will exacerbate the existing challenges facing our freight networks and supply chain, and could further fuel inflation and rising prices on top of what Americans are already seeing,” the senators’ letter to Biden continued.
“Our nation’s truck drivers worked diligently during the pandemic to facilitate critical cross-border freight movements that helped to feed and clothe American communities. Now, implementing these policies could cost them their jobs.”
Co-signing the letter were: Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; James Risch, R-Idaho; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Roger Marshall, R-Kan.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
The senators noted the vaccine mandate for truckers who work alone is not only damaging to the already overstressed supply chain during the holiday, but it is also an overreach, they wrote.
“While both countries intend to impose vaccine requirements on foreign truck drivers, neither country has imposed such a requirement on solo truck drivers who operate domestically,” the letter added. “Since the onset of the pandemic, drivers have traversed the vast expanses of the U.S. and Canada safely, with a low COVID-19 transmission rate, due to the fact that commercial truck drivers spend the majority of their workday alone in the cab and outside.”
The letter drew support from multiple groups, including suppliers The Fertilizer Institute, North American Millers Association, and Motor Carriers of Montana.
“Cross-border trade with Canada is a crucial component of our national supply chain, with thousands of truckload crossings every day that our economy depends upon,” American Trucking Associations Chief Economist & Senior Vice President Bob Costello of International Trade Policy & Cross Border Operations wrote in a statement.
“Ill-advised mandates imposed on our essential workforce threaten to impede this critical flow of freight, further disrupting key industries like auto-manufacturing at a time when supply is already extremely tight. We thank Sen. Daines and his colleagues for recognizing the seriousness of this matter and working to resolve it.
“It’s imperative and in our mutual interest that officials on both sides of the border work to remove these costly and undue barriers to entry.”