New Hampshire voted to reject $27 million to boost COVID-19 vaccinations.
The State’s Executive Council voted on Oct. 13 to turn down the federal grant, a decision that was immediately denounced by the state’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu.
“Today’s vote by members of my own party, quite frankly, was a disservice to the constituents that we are all elected to serve. The AG, Department of Health and Human Services, they addressed all of the councilors concerns and they still voted to send $27 million of our tax dollars, frankly, back to Washington, D.C., instead of spending it here to help our state to get out of this pandemic,” said Sununu in a statement.
New Hampshire is the first state to reject federal COVID-19 funding.
At the governor’s request, Attorney General John Formella published an opinion on Oct. 8 after reviewing the terms and conditions of two COVID-19 grants. The grants had to be approved by the Executive Council and a legislative fiscal committee.
“Both groups delayed approval, saying the language seems to claim the state must comply with ‘future directives’ regarding the control of the spread of COVID-19, such as vaccine mandates,” said WCAX.
Fromella wrote that New Hampshire would not have to comply with “broad and sweeping federal mandates” if it accepted the grant money.
The vote was voted 4-1, with Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D-Concord) the only member in favor of taking the grant money. The other councilors, Republicans Janet Stevens of Rye, Ted Gatsas of Manchester, David Wheeler of Milford, and Joe Kenney of Wakefield, were against accepting the funding to increase the state’s vaccination program with the objective of increasing the number of vaccinated residents.
At the meeting, Kenny cited the public’s desire for independence as a reason to not take money from the federal government.
“They look at New Hampshire, one of thirteen original colonies[, as] the Live Free or Die state. I still have reservations about the overarching authority of government on New Hampshire,” Kenney said.
Gatsas noted that earlier in the meeting, the council approved $13 million more for a mobile vaccine van for COVID-19. He said the extra funding was not necessary.
Wheeler cited concerns over privacy and data collection. She said the federal government could access personal data rather than take an opt-in provision if the state took the grants. The governor said, in the future, he could explore the possibility of an opt-in rather than an opt-out vaccine registry with New Hampshire’s legislature.
Wheeler also told the governor to “stand up like the governor of Texas” against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. Texas Governor Greg Abbott banned any entity in the state from requiring vaccines as a term of employment earlier this week.
While Sununu has publicly planned to be involved in the lawsuit challenging Biden’s mandate, he told wheeler he would not tell a private business who to employ.
“That is completely un-American,” he said.
“More than 126,000 people have tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, including 510 cases announced Wednesday. Two new deaths were announced, bringing the total to 1,511,” per AP News.
Protestors had disrupted a previously scheduled meeting of the Executive Council, holding signs that said “FIGHT MEDICAL TYRANNY” and “THE FINAL VARIANT IS CALLED COMMUNISM” and interrupting the speakers with jeers.