Angry opponents of the Biden administration’s new vaccine mandate forced the postponement of Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting, further delaying a vote on $27 million in federal aid to boost New Hampshire’s vaccination efforts.
The Republican-controlled council, a five-member panel that approves state contracts and nominations to courts and agencies, had voted this month to table a request from the state Department of Health and Human Services to spend federal pandemic relief money on a public health program manager and a dozen workers to promote the COVID-19 vaccine and address public concerns about it.
Republican lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, which also must approve the request, have done the same.
The request was back before the council on Wednesday, but the meeting in Manchester was called off after protesters moved around the room, shouting, “Shut it down.” After Councilor David Wheeler said state employees attending to answer questions about agenda items were in fear for the lives, one man shouted, “Mission accomplished!”
Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, said state police had to escort the employees to their cars after “unacceptable, unruly behavior.” He said in a statement that the meeting was postponed “until our state employees can go before the council in a safe and orderly manner.” A new date has not been set.
“I will not put members of the Executive Council or state agencies in harm’s way,” Sununu said.
Councilor Cinde Warmington, the lone Democrat on the council, said the most difficult moment was hearing protestors tell state employees, “We know where you live.”
“It was most disturbing to hear that they were really going after our state employees,” she said in a phone interview. “This is a group of really right-wing, fringe activists who are trying to disrupt our government. They ultimately will not succeed because we will meet and we will conduct the business of the state of New Hampshire as we were elected to do.”